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Happy to Be Home

Jiab Wasserman  |  Aug 12, 2021

IN THE PAST THREE years, Jim and I have moved five times—three times in Spain and twice in Dallas. We sold almost all our possessions when we moved to Spain, taking just four suitcases and two cats. When we returned to Dallas, we didn’t bring home much more—five suitcases and two cats.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered that I prefer living in a smaller home. I love the design of Spanish houses, which are—on average—just half the size of equivalent U.S.

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Going Nowhere

Dennis Friedman  |  Aug 12, 2021

REAL ESTATE PRICES in California are through the roof. The price of a smaller home in our neighborhood just sold for $80,000 above the list price. Not only is housing expensive for retirees like us, but also the cost of living in California is very high. Gas, food and taxes are a lot higher here than in other places favored by retirees, such as the Sunbelt.
When I was going to school, I was never good at math.

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A Well-Placed Bet

Kristine Hayes  |  Aug 5, 2021

THREE YEARS AGO, I bought a home a few weeks before getting married. The purchase wasn’t so much an investment as a necessity: My new husband and I owned four dogs between us, and we knew we’d have a difficult time finding a rental that would allow that many pets.
I’d lived in the Portland, Oregon, metro area for nearly 30 years and had owned two other homes. I knew which neighborhoods to avoid,

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Hammered Home

Michael Flack  |  Jun 24, 2021

ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO, we renovated our entire Washington, DC, home. The memory is still quite fresh. If you’ve ever renovated a house, you’ll understand.
A home renovation has similarities to personal finance: You can do it yourself (DIY), you can pay someone to do it for you, or you can do something in between. This last approach has worked well for me—both with renovations and financial matters.
Our home consisted of a three-level townhouse.

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Show Me the Cash

Jiab & Jim Wasserman  |  Jun 4, 2021

THERE ARE A GREAT many terrible problems. Having too much cash typically isn’t seen as one of them. Yet that’s where we are. Following our move back to the U.S. from Spain, we found ourselves with an abundance of cash sitting in our brokerage account. And these days, with interest rates the way they are, that cash doesn’t do much more than sit.
The upshot: We decided to purchase some rental properties. We have one rental unit already—our former home—but we plan to make it our home once again.

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Through the Roof

Mike Zaccardi  |  May 12, 2021

STOP LUSTING AFTER homes on Zillow. It’s time to get serious about the property market—and ask whether houses today are a good value.
Make no mistake: Real estate is red hot. Bloomberg recently reported that demand is so strong that almost half of U.S. homes sell within a week of coming to market. The S&P Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index surged 12% over the 12 months through February, with the Phoenix and San Diego markets leading the way with 17% gains.

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Moving Right Along

Richard Connor  |  May 5, 2021

MANY DREAM OF retiring to the beach. My wife and I just did it. We recently sold our primary home outside Philadelphia and moved to our vacation home on the New Jersey Shore. The decision wasn’t easy. It was the result of a number of events coming together, including the pandemic, the hot real estate market and an attractive, but unexpected offer on our primary home.
We’d lived in our old home since 1994.

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Renters’ Revenge

John Goodell  |  Apr 30, 2021

MUCH IS WRITTEN about whether it’s better to rent or own your home. Not nearly enough ink is devoted to the issue of renting from a bad landlord.
Perhaps personal finance writers avoid the topic because they’re wary of providing legal advice when discussing potential remedies. On top of that, landlord-tenant law varies greatly from state to state, with some states offering greater protection to tenants and others affording landlords wider latitude.
I know a fair amount about this because I not only spent 14 years as an active-duty Army servicemember who had to move frequently,

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While We’re at It

Richard Quinn  |  Apr 20, 2021

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am the antithesis of the DIY guy. I was completely banned from home repairs many years ago after I set out to replace an electrical outlet—but switched off the wrong circuit breaker before doing so.

We’ve undertaken two major renovations in the past 12 years. The first was an addition to our vacation home. The second is ongoing—a new kitchen at the same house.

We spent months on the plans. In the case of the addition,

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Taking on Tenants

Juan Fourneau  |  Mar 29, 2021

IN MY EARLY 30s, I was a typical blue-collar worker. The only way I invested was through my employer’s 401(k) plan. But I was a good saver, putting 25% of my income into the plan, which was the maximum allowed, plus I got a generous company match of 8%. Still, I was on the lookout for ways to increase my savings and my investment returns. That was early 2006.
I read a variety of books to further my personal finance knowledge.

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Housing Gone Wild

Joe Kesler  |  Mar 18, 2021

THERE’S SOMETHING very emotional about our homes—and how we think about their value. Take the conversation my wife and I had a couple of weeks ago.
“Did you see the house behind us went up for sale this week? They have it listed at 141% more than what we paid for our house.”
“Well, there’s no way their house is worth that much.”
“Oh really? I just talked to our neighbor—the one who’s a realtor—and he said they had five offers the first day it went up.

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About the House

Richard Quinn  |  Mar 9, 2021

MY FATHER WAS A CAR salesman who, for many years, worked totally on commission, with no paid vacation. In 1953, when I was 10 years old, we went to Cape Cod for a week. A friend gave him a tip on a great place to stay. In his enthusiasm, my father booked for a week and paid in advance.
The place turned out to be worse than a Second World War army barracks. My mother refused to stay.

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Home Free

Kenyon Sayler  |  Jan 28, 2021

MY SON AND HIS fiancée recently purchased their first home. They’ve asked me about things like how to fix a leaky faucet, but they haven’t asked me for financial advice—which is a good thing, because I’ve had very limited experience buying houses.
You see, my wife and I bought our first and only home in 1986. We paid $89,000, putting down $20,000 and taking out a $72,000 mortgage by the time we added in points,

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Weekend Warriors

Andrew Forsythe  |  Dec 16, 2020

AH, A SECOND HOME—a fond dream for so many. While we try to justify a weekend house as a “good investment,” they’re often bought to fulfill some emotional need.
For some, it’s a beach house. For others, it’s a mountain getaway. But for me, it’s always been a place in the country. I’m an introvert. The prospect of getting away from crowds and noise to a secluded place of peace and quiet is my ideal.

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Lucky Strikes

Richard Connor  |  Dec 7, 2020

WHEN OPPORTUNITY knocks, will you be ready? In the past 15 months, my wife and I have had two attractive but completely unexpected opportunities presented to us.
On Labor Day 2019, a neighbor at our New Jersey Shore house told us they were selling their home. They had bought a lot nearby and were planning to build a larger house to accommodate their growing brood of grandchildren. They knew my wife and I had a third grandson on the way,

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