The Roth Advantage Part 2: First Time Homebuyer

March 16, 2018

Dan Kresh FPQP™

There are ways for first time homebuyers to access some funds from retirement accounts without "penalty". Though you may be able to avoid an early withdrawal penalty, you will be lowering the amount in your retirement account. You would likely be purchasing your first home many years before you plan to retire, depleting your account when it has the most time to grow. This is a complicated decision. It is important to understand the differences between how you could access funds early from Traditional or Roth IRAs.

A first-time homebuyer can access up to $10,000 from either a Roth or Traditional IRA to contribute towards a down payment[i]. Any funds taken out from a Traditional IRA, for any reason, including a first-time home purchase would be taxed as ordinary income. The tax deferred nature of the Traditional IRA is its biggest advantage, so using funds from a Traditional IRA to help fund a home purchase will forfeit some of that benefit while shrinking your nest egg.
With a Roth IRA, you can take out contributions at any time for any reason without a tax consequence since it's already after-tax dollars[ii]. The Roth IRA owner can also access up to $10,000 of profit for a first-time home purchase, and if you have had the Roth for more than 5 years that would be tax free.[iii] You should NEVER consider a retirement fund an emergency fund, however; the fact remains that there are less barriers and penalties to accessing funds from a Roth IRA early than from a Traditional IRA.

Tapping into your retirement account to buy a home should not be your first choice, but it's nice to know what options could be on the table. You have the best chance of growing your nest egg if you contribute the maximum into your IRA for as long as possible. Taking funds out of your retirement account before retirement age, with or without penalty and or tax, means you will have a smaller principal to hopefully compound over time. Your retirement money will serve you best in retirement and should be invested in a well-diversified portfolio for the long haul. Any investment involves the risk of loss of principal but the more diverse your investments and the longer your time horizon the better your chance is to mitigate that risk.

If your income is at or approaching limits for contributing to a Roth IRA part 3 of this series will discuss a potential way for you to contribute to a Roth IRA using Roth conversions. It's never too early to start thinking about retirement. The earlier you start the more time you have for growth. You work hard for your money, we work hard so your money can work for you.

[i] IRS
[ii]Roth IRA Withdrawl
[iii]IRA To Buy A House

A Roth IRA distribution is qualified if you've had the account for at least five years and/or the distribution is made after you've reached age 59½, because of your total and permanent disability, in the event of your death or for first-time homebuyer expenses. Distributions made prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to a federal income tax penalty. If converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you will owe ordinary income taxes on any previously deducted traditional IRA contributions and on all earnings.

You should always consult a tax professional and though this piece contains some tax information it should not be considered tax advice.

Thank You, Janet Yellen

As the year began, we knew that we would have to say goodbye to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and welcome a new Chairman, Janet Yellen.  Although she served as Vice Chair under Mr. Bernanke since 2010, since the end of last year the markets have been hypersensitive to a potential interest rate policy change which might have begun on February 3 when Janet Yellen was sworn in to office.

This concern,  along with a possibility of Congress again struggling with the budget ceiling (I will cover that issue in my next blog) has helped create a very shaky start to the US markets this year, with the Dow down 5.3%, and the S&P 500 down 3.56% for the month of Januaryi.

Chairman Yellen’s testimony before Congress on February 11th was the markets first real test for the New Year.  During her testimony, as reported in the Washington Postii, Ms. Yellen made it clear that under her leadership, the Fed is still concerned about job growth and the strength of our economic recovery.  Since the unemployment rate was approaching 6.5% (which the Fed had previously used as a target to accelerate the removal of Fed’s stimulus of our economy)iiithe market was concerned that the new policy under Chairman Yellen would be less accommodating and possibility slow down our weak recovery.

Her testimony before Congress made it clear that although joblessness has improved, it remains too high.  While she will continue the Fed’s policy of tapering that started under Bernanke’s tenure, she also made it very clear that interest rates need to remain low for the foreseeable future to keep our economy on trackiv.

The markets took that very well on Tuesday, rising more than 1%v  and recognizing that at least one specter of doom and gloom hanging over our continued recovery has at least for the moment been removed.

Thank you, Janet Yellen!

*The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., and should not be construed directly or indirectly, as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Individual circumstances vary. Investing is subject to risks including loss of principal invested. No strategy including asset allocation or diversification can assure a profit against loss.

Fixed income investments are subject to various risks including changes in interest rates, credit quality, and other factors. Securities sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to a substantial gain or loss. In general, the bond market is volatile as prices rise when interest rates fall and vice versa. This effect is usually pronounced for longer-term securities.

This material contains forward looking statements and projections. It is our goal to help investors by identifying changing market conditions. However, investors should be aware that no investment advisor can accurately predict all of the changes that may occur in the market


i Volume Feb. 1st2014 
ii Washington Feb 11th2014
iii Washington Feb 11th2014
iv ibid

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