Mood of the Market
Fortunately, I see an increasing number of buyers doing this, and actually choosing to buy a home that costs much less than they are technically qualified for.
5. Don't buy a house to fix a family or psychological problem. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they admonish addicts to avoid what they call "pulling a geographic" -- moving to a new neighborhood or town to try to run from your problems and bad habits.
They caution against expecting the move to solve the problem on the grounds that, in the words of mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, "wherever you go, there you are." If you have bad habits in Chicago, moving to L.A. doesn't purge the bad habits -- only working on the actual dysfunction itself will do that.
I submit that there's a real estate-specfic version of pulling a geographic, which we'll call "pulling a residential." This is where people buy a home or buy a new home in an effort to cure a deeper family or psychological issue; sort of like that old (and equally bad) idea of having a baby to try to save your marriage.
If your children are fighting because they lack personal space, that's one thing. But if there are deeper issues going on with your children, your family or your relationship (even your relationship with yourself), do not fantasize that owning a home or moving up is going to automatically solve them.
In fact, the opposite is often true: The larger the financial and maintenance obligations that come with a home, the more a mortgage and property taxes can add strain to already troubled relationships.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman's Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.
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