Real Estate Reference Don't Overpay for a House, Even in Today's Market
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  by Christopher Mallon

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  If there's one thing American investors love, it's an over-inflated market. Which is why they keep buying houses and new ones keep coming onto the market. According to the latest data, housing starts rose an annualized 3.4% in September, matching a 17-year high. Whoo-ha! Go, baby go.

I wonder if the people buying these houses, for ever-rising prices, are the same people who couldn't get enough Amazon.com stock at $100 or Lucent shares for $75? Having been burned in the stock market, I guess they decided to re-invest what was left in their homes. Are we in a housing bubble? I don't know, but I suspect that we are, at least in some areas of the country.

Don't misunderstand me, now. I own a home, and I think home ownership is one of the great freedoms we enjoy in this country. I get nervous about the people who are pulling all the equity out of their homes with new mortgages. I suspect that most of these people are spending the equity, not investing it. What they're left with is a larger mortgage, and a bunch of worthless Chinese made goods.

The current low-interest rate environment is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to lock in a cheap 30-year mortgage on your home. If you refinance the balance of your current mortgage, you've won. If you refinance, and max out on your equity, you're probably hurting yourself. You might say that by refinancing the equity in your home, you're just cashing in on your home's rise in value. Well, not exactly.

What you're really doing is collateralizing the portion of the house that you own to get a cash loan, with the intention of paying back the loan at a later date. You've really transferred ownership of the equity in your house to your lender, not cashed it out. If you want to cash out your equity, you have to sell your house, plain and simple.
 
     
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