Taking Advantage of Homeownership

In 1993, when they were just 24 years old, Rufus and Jenny Triplett took advantage of a Veterans Affairs home loan to purchase a newly constructed three-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Powder Springs, Georgia, during Atlanta’s housing boom.

Rufus, a Marine Corps serviceman, and Jenny, a veteran of the Navy, financed 100% of the home’s purchase price; even their $1,000 earnest deposit was refunded at the closing. The couple’s $760 monthly mortgage payment was lower than the $960 rent they had been paying for a cramped two-bedroom apartment in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The Marine Corps also covered the Tripletts’ relocation expenses.

Soon after the Tripletts purchased their home, its value quickly jumped more than 35%, or $30,000, from its original $84,000 price. Over the years the couple has put in a pool and basketball court and upgraded their kitchen, increasing the value of the home to $134,900, according to a current appraisal.

Purchasing their home is one of the smartest moves they ever made, the couple, both 44, now says. “We will be the first in either of our families to have a home that is totally paid for, and one that has helped keep our business afloat during tough economic times,” says Jenny. But the couple has also been smart about using their home and managing their lender.

Seven years ago, Rufus, who works full time for National Envelope, one of the country’s largest envelope manufacturers, and Jenny started a multimedia company. Previously, in 1997, they’d borrowed $5,000 against the equity in their home to start an entertainment company, which they paid back in full in five years. They used the money earned from the entertainment company to finance their current multimedia business, which is profitable. To keep costs low, the couple converted their attic into a studio.

Using their home as a place of business has provided the Tripletts several tax advantages. After consulting two accountants and their attorney, and attending seminars on home-based businesses, the Tripletts deduct 28% of their mortgage payment, depreciation, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and expenses for household maintenance, repairs, or improvements. (For more information about home office deductions, see www.irs.gov/uac/Work-From-Home%3F-Consider-the-Home-Office-Deduction.)

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