Buying a house is a matter of why, not when

DEAR BRUCE: When is a good time to purchase a house? I have been looking at houses. The only thing I noticed is that the interest rates are low, but the houses are high in price. Why is everyone buying and selling? — Mary, via e-mail

DEAR MARY: You are asking about the timing of buying a house. First of all, why are you looking at a house? It is a major mistake to be looking at a home-buying as strictly as a monetary investment.

True, money is involved; you have to have the ability to retire a mortgage and that sort of stuff. That having been observed, you're talking about buying a lifestyle.

Owning a home is not for everyone. There are a lot of responsibilities. For some people, the place they sleep is no more than a pit stop. There is nothing wrong with that, but why would they want to buy a house?

On the other hand, there are those of us out there that just can't wait to get home and get out in the garden, cut the grass, paint, build an addition, etc. Most people fall some place in the middle of those two extremes.

As to price, you say prices are high. Certainly the prices are high to some incomes and sometimes with your perception. Many people would tell you that prices are very low, low relative to what?

If you are in a place such as I in Florida where home prices were so incredible inflated. The prices today at 40 percent less look like bargains but are they truly bargains? Were those houses ever truly worth what they are being sold for three or four years ago?

Ask yourself, why am I thinking about buying a home? The best possible answer is because I am looking for a better lifestyle and a home can help provide that.

DEAR BRUCE: A salesperson was promoting a plan that entailed buying centrifuge and then buying supplies from the company, mixing them with milk, putting them in the centrifuge, drying them and sending them to the company, which would then pay you. Why wouldn't the company do all that itself? — B.S., via e-mail

DEAR B.S.: This one has whiskers on it. There are all manner of hustles that have been promoted from making dolls, stringing jewelry, etc. Where you buy the materials and you improve them by stringing the beads on a thread.

The problem is with all those pitches is, you will buy these different products assuming they meet company standards and, guess what? Almost nothing meets company standards.

I did a TV show just talking about the various permutations of this scam. When they want you to buy supplies from them to improve, smile and run the other direction.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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