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.

Is the Bond Market Going to Crash?

Is the bond market going to crash? 

Generation after generation learns investment lessons at the feet of their parents. The children of the Depression were great savers, the result of growing up in poverty, and their own children learned that caution was the best way to treat hard-earned money.  But time passes, and the role that money, investments and spending play in family stories changes, as do the lessons learned.

In the 1970s, two incomes from two busy working parents led to a different narrative.  Children weren’t taught how to manage money, and the consequences of mistakes were buffered by protective parents.    Today we know many parents who are still footing the bill for adult children, including retirees who are making changes to their retirement in order to help their children. But when the parents die and the inheritance is gone, children go from privileged to poor.

What does this have to do with the bond market?  Far more than we’d like it to.

Today’s bonds are being supported by Daddy -  Papa Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are  buying $40 billion a month of mortgage bonds and $45 billion a month of Treasuries and have pledged to do so until employment numbers and other economic indicators reach targeted levels.  Protective Papa Ben is propping up his child, and as long as he does, interest rates will stay low and we believe the bond market is less likely to crash.

The headlines that the thirty year bull market in bonds is over are true, but the child does not know it because Papa Ben is still paying the bills. The difference here is that we can see what Bernanke is doing.  

We all know what happens to a spoiled child when the money is finally gone.  Knowing that Papa Ben has set a fairly specific time frame based on economic indicators for when he will stop footing the bill for the bond market should be enough time for us to prepare for what is coming.  
Here’s what I am doing, and what you should consider doing too:

• Recognizing that bonds are not the low risk solution to diversification that they used to be, we are controlling risk through other non-conventional means.

• This does not mean that bonds shouldn't be part of a portfolio, but rather that we have to be much more cautious about interest rate risk and credit risk.

• People who stretch for yield by buying lower rated bonds with longer maturities are likely to find themselves punished most when Papa Bernanke finally does stop paying the bills.
If you would like to speak with me about this or any other financial matters, please call the office at 631-232-9170.

Michael Kresh, CFP®


*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.

Lower rated debt securities, sometimes called high yield or junk bonds, carry increased risks of price volatility, illiquidity, and the possibility of default in the timely payment of interest and principal.

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

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