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Monday, May 9, 2011

Double Dip Housing Market Reinforces Why We Should All Live Below Our Means

In 2007 when we were looking to purchase a home our real estate agent kept urging us to look at homes in the $375-450k range in a fantastic Mid-Century modern neighborhood we love. The homes are beautiful and very stylish and fetching a price that even to this day has maintained its value. What was the problem? First the homes were about 40% larger than we really needed, ranging from 1500-2200 square feet. Secondly the prices were about 5 to 7 times our annual salary, at the time.
We kept reminding our agent we did not want a place larger than 1,200 square feet and we did not want to spend more than one and a half times our joint salary, since we wanted to continue to be able to afford our new, future home even if one of us lost our job.  We stuck to our guns and purchased a 1,008 square foot condo for just that price. 
Now that we seem to be heading into a double dip in the housing market, this reinforces for us the principle of living below our means.  We understand that the popular opinion is to be angry with banks for robo-signing loans and motivating real estate agents to motivate their buyers to buy larger and more expensive homes, but we have individual responsibility, too.  Mom and Dad’s old rule of thumb of not buy a home more than three times our income is still solid.
With our increase in salaries over the years and our aggressive plan to pay our mortgage off early, our loan is now only one times our joint salary and that feels pretty good.  Hopefully others will learn the lesson of the not-so-distant past and the present when they find themselves in the market for another home.

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