Dare I say it?

I'm not sure I want to say this too loud, in case I jinx myself. However, I think my wife may be starting to feel a bit better. And why would this matter? Well, we can get back to our favorite summer hobby; touring the local open houses!

I hate to admit it, but there are some properties in our area that look like great deals. I think I might just be incorrigible; perhaps I'm born to house-hunt.

Given that interest rates are on the rise -- but are not rising quickly -- I do think that we have a grace period right now, where we can negotiate another good rate on our mortgage, and perhaps move up a bit. While I do fully expect the housing market to at least stabilize (if not cool a bit) over the next few years, I'm not expecting it soon. And frankly, if your job is good (mine is) and stable (mine is), I think it could be a good time to gamble.

Having said that, I've never been one to think of a house as an "investment". It isn't really; it's a place to live. The advantage is that it's a place to live which allows you to build equity, either through rising prices or your ability to pay off the mortgage. I don't count on making money on every house. In fact, when I sold my first home, you could hardly say that I'd "made" money. While I managed to sell it for about $10,000 more than I had originally purchased it for, once you consider real estate fees and the cost of renovating and improving the property over the years, I'm sure any benefit was a "wash". However, I got over $40,000 worth of equity out of that home, and that was nothing to sneeze at.

I suppose the right way to look at your home is a "forced savings plan". Even in a market where housing prices drop, most of us will get some level of money out of our homes. We may "lose" money compared to what we paid (and in disastrous situations, we may lose a lot of money, if we've purchased a home who's value has dropped considerably) but we do have to consider that we had a place to live for a period of time too. If you rent, you pay every month for the privilege of living in your home. What do you have at the end? You've had the privilege of living in your home! You don't have anything else.

With that in mind, I still think that I'll always like owning my own home. And I may always be "window shopping" for the next place... Just don't tell my wife.

Michael

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