They keep bringing little chocolates into the office.
This can’t be a good thing.
Every time I get up from my desk to get something I print off, I come back not only with a few sheets of paper, but a few miniature Krackels and Mr. Goodbars, too.
They’re delicious, but the holidays are over. I need to get back to the swing of things and start eating right again. I’ve had my months of gluttony—now it’s time to focus, to get back to the basics.
Likewise, the housing market needs to do the same thing. It had its years of gluttony, of record-breaking ROI, but the housing bubble–just like Christmas–is over. It’s 2010, not only a new year, but a new decade. Let’s get back to basics, starting with rule #1: a house should be a home first–not an investment.
Down the Drain?
Over the last few days, I’ve read many posts about people who purchased a home or a condo only to have lost a third or more of their equity. Obviously, losing equity in a home can be a hard pill to swallow, but unless you’re selling it tomorrow, you really haven’t “lost” anything.
Now, this is not in reference to the families who’ve lost their home, either through foreclosure due to job-loss or illness, but rather, folks who “lost” some imaginary notion of wealth based on the market value of their home.
After all, they still have a roof over their head, right? And if they’re lucky, their mortgage payment hasn’t changed.
The miniature Hershey bars are delicious. But if you told me that the “value” of Hershey miniatures went up to $400 an ounce, would they taste any better? Probably not. Likewise, if your house’s value goes up, it may make you feel better, but the house itself hasn’t changed.
More Than a Piggy Bank
Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t own my house. The bank owns my house; I’m just paying them off over the course of 30 years. I’m renting to own.
In the meantime, however, I have free reign to paint the hallway with orange stripes or add a deck made of cereal boxes in the back if I so choose. I can decorate it as I please and make the house reflect who I am. I don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors, jerky landlords, or weird smells emanating from someone else’s kitchen. If I have kids some day, I can raise them in the house. It’s my responsibility to keep it nice and not fall apart. It’s a lot of work, but anything worth having usually is.
My house is a place for me to live in, not a piggy bank. I don’t view my house as a source of income when I retire–that’s what my 401(k) and IRAs are for. My house is simply my haven from the world–a space that I can make my own and come “home” to.
The more we attach our worth and value as people to the things we own, the more stressed out we’ll be, and there’s already enough stress in being a home “ower”.
So, enjoy your house and make it a home. If it happens to go up in value, good for you; but if it happens to go down, don’t sweat it. After all, you have a roof over your head. A house should be about making a home, not about increasing your net worth. When it all comes down to it, a house is just a building. A home is something different entirely.
So, no more miniature candies for me. And no more stressing out whether or not my house is “worth” it. Because it’s worth it to me and, even if the world says it only has a value of $5.34, I can still walk into the front door and shut them out, in peace. Because I bought my house to live in, not as a barometer for success. The Joneses are more than welcome to pass me by if they like.
And hey, if it is only worth $5.34, think about how much money I’ll save in property taxes!