Downsizing: 5 Things to Consider


Downsizing is on the minds of many homeowners today. Some are ready to retire. Others want to live more simply. Many want to save money and say goodbye to home maintenance. If you can relate to any of those sentiments, ask yourself these five questions:


Have you done the math?

The financial savings that can be generated by downsizing can be significant – especially as they add up over time. Boston College Retirement Center (an independent, reliable resource) makes calculating this savings a snap. Visit and click on the calculator titled “Figure out how moving changes your finances” in the tools area of the website.


Have you researched elder-care options?

Many homeowners hold on to their current home longer than they should because their parents / parents-in-law may need to come live with them in the future. While a noble gesture, there are many excellent elder care living options available today. Often, all it takes is a tour of those facilities to realize that your loved one may actually be happier, and far better served, in a place devoted to their care and happiness.


Have you considered off-site storage?

You don’t need to immediately discard a big chunk of your belongings in order to downsize. In fact, trying to do so in one fell swoop only creates stress. Most people find it works much better to move some of their belongings into off-site storage for six months. During that time, you can gradually incorporate some of those items into your new living arrangement, and slowly figure out what to do with the others.


How do you feel about sharing costs and decision-making?

Townhomes and condominiums are popular downsizing options. But both require that you share the decision-making and expenses associated with any maintenance and improvement projects. If you’re a people-person, agree with the old adage that two heads are better than one, and you like the idea of sharing the cost/responsibility for expensive repairs, you’ll enjoy condo living. If not, this may not be the best option for you.


Have you consulted with a real estate agent?

Many homeowners don’t think to consult with a real estate agent until they’ve made the decision to downsize. This leads to guesstimating about some of the most important factors. The truth is, your real estate agent is someone you want to talk with very early in the decision-making process.


Local Market Update – August 2017

Instead of experiencing the typical summer seasonal slowdown, the real estate market in July was as hot as the weather. For yet another month, our area had the distinction of seeing home prices rise faster than any other market in the country. Buyers were hit with a double whammy – soaring prices and the continuing lack of inventory. Despite the rising prices, most homes are selling in about a week. Brokers are hoping to see the return to a more balanced market soon.


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While down from its record in June, the median price of a single-family home on the Eastside soared 15 percent from a year ago to a $860,000. The median price in West Bellevue was $2.3 million, making it the most expensive area in King County. Even at that price point, competition is steep. Of the 71 homes that sold in West Bellevue in July, 40 percent sold in a week or less.

King County

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For the first time, the median home price in King County grew more than $100,000 in a year. That translated into a median home price of $658,000, a whopping 19 percent increase over the same time last year, and another new high. Tight inventory was a big contributor. There were 18 percent fewer homes for sale than last July.


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With just two weeks of inventory, the supply of homes of homes for sale in Seattle just can’t keep up with demand from new residents to live close to the city. In the desirable, close-in Ballard neighborhood, there are currently only 17 single-family homes on the market. Prices are up accordingly. The median price for a single-family home in Seattle increased 15 percent over a year ago to $748,500, essentially unchanged from the peak in June.

Snohomish County

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While still a relative bargain when compared to King County, Snohomish County has been playing catch-up. Prices have regularly increased by double digits over the previous year. July was no exception. The median price of a single-family home jumped 12 percent over the same time last year to $453,000, another record high.

6 Ways to Personalize a White Kitchen

White-on-white kitchens have been a classic look for many years. Why does this trend endure? For starters, white connotes cleanliness, makes small spaces appear larger, and brightens rooms that are naturally dark.

Although many all-white kitchens are just lovely, some can appear a bit stark or cold. To help clients warm up their white, I recommend a variety of strategies, such as mixing metals and adding contrasting paint, fabric or wood. Read on for inspiration for personalizing your white kitchen so that it stands out from the crowd.


White Kitchen 1: Allard Ward Architects, original photo on Houzz


1. Warm metal accents. Copper, bronze, brass and polished nickel are just a few of the metals that can warm up an all-white kitchen. The gold sconces above the window and the white pendant lights, with their subtle hint of gold, add warmth and a touch of luxury to this all-white kitchen.

Related: Kitchen Lighting in Copper, Bronze, Brass, and Nickel


White Kitchen 2: GIA Bathroom & Kitchen Renovations, original photo on Houzz


2. Color and metal. Moving beyond metallics alone, a single contrasting color when combined with metals can create drama in a white kitchen. In this photo, a modern white kitchen intermingles black pendants and countertops with gold seating. This combination contributes to the room’s sleek contemporary look.


White Kitchen 3: Orchid Newton Ltd, original photo on Houzz


3. Wallpaper. I love wallpaper, especially in kitchens. Wallpaper can introduce color, movement and dimension to a white kitchen. When applied to a lone wall, wallpaper can create a dynamic focal point, as shown in this photo. The bright white cabinets and crisp white walls are softened by the shades of blue in the fish swimming on the side wall. This kitchen’s under-the-sea motif is enhanced by the blue tile on the back wall and the sea urchin-shaped pendant lights.


White Kitchen 4: IS Architecture, original photo on Houzz


4. Colorful island. Wood-stained islands often appear in white kitchens because of the richness and contrast they bring. This kitchen shows a creative alternative, pairing a chartreuse island with a chartreuse Roman shade. Together they lend a whimsical, personalized feel. To give your white kitchen a personal touch, consider painting your island your favorite color.


White Kitchen 5: Mosaic del Sur, original photo on Houzz


5. Tile rug. Layering in a rug is a great way to introduce color and texture to an all-white kitchen, but some clients worry that a rug could be an added source of dirt as well as a possible tripping hazard.

This clever kitchen resolves both issues with a tile rug instead of a fabric one.


White Kitchen 6: Hindley & Co, original photo on Houzz


6. Backsplash. A tile backsplash also can bring color and texture to your white kitchen. But who says a backsplash must be tile? This kitchen has a counter-level window in lieu of a tile splash. The window faces a luscious succulent garden, thus creating a green vista for an otherwise monochromatic kitchen.


By Barbra Bright, Houzz 

Seven Trends That Will Define the Home of the Future


As sophisticated as homes are today, experts predict they’ll be far more so in the not-too-distant future— especially when it comes to their use of technology. Included are seven evolutionary trends that many expect to define the home of the future.


#1: Faster home-construction

Today, it takes somewhere between 18 months and two years to design and build your custom dream home. In the foreseeable future, experts predict that timeline will be slashed to six to nine months.

Architects will use immersion technology to not only develop plans faster, but also enable you to “walk” through a three-dimensional representation of the house and experience what it will be like to live there. Changes to the layout could be incorporated with a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse.

And, instead of delivering raw materials to the construction site and having workers cut and assemble them to match the plans, about 70 percent of the cutting and assembling work will take place in a precision-controlled factory environment. Once the foundation is ready, the pre-constructed walls, floors and roof will be delivered in “folded” sections, complete with windows, doors, fixtures, and even appliances, already installed.


#2: Alternative building materials and techniques

One of the big breakthroughs in home construction coming in the near future will be the use of steel framing in place of lumber.  

Steel is not only stronger (able to withstand a 100-pound snow load, 110 mile per hour winds and significant earthquakes), it’s also far more eco-friendly than most people think (manufactured from up to 77 percent recycled materials) and much less wasteful (typical lumber framing generates 20 percent waste, while steel framing generates just two percent).

Other innovative home-building materials moving towards the mainstream include:

  • Wall insulation made of mushroom roots (it grows inside the air cavity, forming an air-tight seal).
  • Panels made of hemp and lime.
  • Windows made from recycled wood fiber and glass.
  • Recycled-glass floor and counter tiles.
  • Reclaimed wood (beams and flooring re-milled and repurposed).


#3: Smaller homes with inventive layouts

The optimum home size for many Americans has been shrinking, and experts predict it will shrink more in the future. But it will feel bigger than it is because the layout will be so practical.

The driving forces behind the small-house movement (millennials purchasing their first home and baby boomers looking to downsize) aren’t interested in formal dining rooms, home offices, guest quarters and other spaces that have only one use and are only occasionally occupied. And they certainly aren’t interested in formal entries, high ceilings and three-car garages. They want an informal house layout, with flexible, adaptable spaces that can be used every day in one way or another.

Many of these homes will also feature a second master bedroom, so parents, children and grandparents can all comfortably live under one roof.


#4: Walkable neighborhoods

Even today, homebuyers are willing to give up some of their wants for a new house in order to get a location that’s within walking distance to stores, restaurants and other amenities. In the future, that trend is expected to only grow stronger.


#5: The net-zero house

For some time now, homeowners and homebuilders have both been striving to make the structures where we live more energy-efficient (green housing projects accounted for 20% of all newly built homes in 2012). But in the future, the new goal with be a net-zero home: A home that uses between 60 to 70 percent less energy than a conventional home, with the balance of its energy needs supplied by renewable technologies (solar, wind, etc.).

Essentially, these are homes that sustain themselves. While they do consume energy produced by the local utility, they also produce energy of their own, which can be sold back to the utility through a “net metering” program, offsetting the energy purchased.


#6 High-tech features

The technology revolution that’s transformed our phones, computers and TVs is going to push further into our homes in the not-too-distant future.

Examples include:

  • Compact robots (similar to the Roomba vacuum) that will clean windows and more.
  • Video feeds inside the oven that will allow you to use your phone to check on what’s cooking.
  • Faucet sensors that detect bacteria in food.
  • Blinds that will automatically open and close depending on the time of day, your habits and the amount of sun streaming through the windows.
  • Refrigerators that will monitor quantities, track expiration dates, provide recipes, display family photos, access the Web, play music, and more.
  • Washers and dryers that can be operated remotely.
  • Appliances that will recognize your spoken commands.
  • Heating and cooling systems that automatically adapt to your movements and can predict your wants.


#7: A higher level of security

In the future, home will continue to be a place where we want to feel safe and secure. To accomplish that, you can expect:

  • Sensors that can alert you to water and gas leaks.
  • Facial recognition technology that can automatically determine whether someone on your property is a friend or foe.
  • A smart recognition system that will open the garage door, turn off the security system, unlock the doors and turn on the interior lights when it senses your car approaching.
  • The capability to create the illusion that you’re home and moving about the property when you’re actually someplace else.


This is no pipe dream

Many of these products, processes and strategies are already in use. Some are still being tested. And others are only in the incubator stage. But in the not-too-distant future, experts believe they’ll all be available to homeowners across the country.


6 Clever Ways to Disguise Trash Bins

You probably don’t give much thought to your garbage cans, other than remembering to put them out on the right day. But we all have to store our trash and recycling bins somewhere, and doing so can be a challenge on a smaller property, especially if you don’t want them to be an eyesore. If you’re struggling to find a stylish way to store your bins, check out these smart and inspiring ideas. Now, is it black or green bin day this week?


Garbage Bins 1: Outhouse Design, original photo on Houzz


Choose a screen. The curved screen in the corner of this courtyard is an attractive feature in its own right, thanks to the decorative cutwork pattern, and offers an elegant way to hide ugly plastic bins from view.

By using a screen like this, you can section off as much of the garden as you need — to store bikes or garden equipment as well as bins. To blend in the structure even further, you could grow climbers up and over the screen or along the wall behind.

Related: Outdoor Chairs to Entertain in the Garden


Garbage Bins 2: London Front Gardens, original photo on Houzz


Create a brick shelter. Built in red brick to match the house, and tiled with slate, this practical storage area blends with the property’s exterior and actually enhances the space with its character and interest. The look is mirrored in the raised bed at the front of the drive for a coordinated finish.

A custom compartment on the left neatly houses the bin, while two smaller storage compartments on the right make room for stacking recycling boxes.


Garbage Bins 3: Fenton Roberts Garden Design, original photo on Houzz


Make it part of the garden. The aim of this front garden design was to create a wildlife haven, and rather than see the bins as an unsightly obstacle to be hidden away, the owners decided to make them integral to the design.

They created a sturdy wooden structure with a living roof that works as an extension of the garden and is planted with wildlife-friendly flowers and foliage.

Related: Create a Wildlife Haven With a New Bird Bath


Garbage Bins 4: Beertje Vonk Artist, original photo on Houzz


Design it into an outbuilding. In a larger space, an open-sided outbuilding like this one is ideal for storing and hiding bins. It’s painted a heritage shade and is partly screened in front with evergreen topiary to create a visually appealing feature — a great way to smarten up a drab drive.

This idea would complement a traditional or cottage exterior, but if your style is more contemporary than country, you could choose a sleeker style, or paint it a darker shade to tie in with the exterior of your home.


Garbage Bins 5: Kate Eyre Garden Design, original photo on Houzz


Tuck it into a border. Can you spot the trash bins on this drive? They’re neatly tucked away in the wooden box to the left of this image, and the impact of the structure has been much reduced by positioning it in a decorative floral border and planting low standard trees right alongside it.

The structure also has a green roof planted with succulents to further disguise the box and make it as visually appealing as possible.


Garbage Bins 6: The Honest Scot, original photo on Houzz


Build a clever storage wall. If space is limited, why not make your recycling containers work extra hard by turning their storage area into a boundary wall, as these smart homeowners have. This neat wooden shelter screens the bins from the road while creating a clean, contemporary-style wall.

Related: More Designer Tips to Boost Curb Appeal


By Victoria Harrison, Houzz

Idaho Real Estate Market Update



Idaho has added 16,800 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an above average growth rate of 2.4%. The Education & Health Services sector showed the largest annual job growth, up 4.8%. There were also strong employment gains in Construction, Government Services, Leisure & Hospitality, and Manufacturing.

In May, the state unemployment rate fell for the third consecutive month to 3.2%, underscoring the increased pressure among Idaho employers competing for workers. However, May’s unemployment drop is the result of 2,200 Idahoans exiting the workforce or ending their work search. Additionally, the reduction in the unemployment rate was also affected by the state’s labor force participation rate (the percentage of people 16 years and older with jobs or looking for work), which dropped to 63.4%—the lowest participation rate since July 1976.



  • Second quarter home sales rose by 0.5% compared to the same period last year. In total, 6,174 homes sold in the second quarter of this year.
  • Sales rose the fastest in Payette County, which saw a 24.7% increase over the second quarter of 2016. There were also noticeable sales increases in Valley County. Home sales fell the most in Blaine County, but dramatic swings are common in small markets like this one.
  • Year-over-year sales dropped in two of three Northern Idaho counties in this report, but rose in all but one county in the Southern Idaho market areas.
  • Listing inventory rose in all the Northern Idaho counties in this report, but a majority of the Southern counties saw a decrease in listing activity, which will negatively impact sales.



  • The average home price in the region rose 11.1% year-over-year to $276,943.
  • Blaine County led the market with the strongest annual price growth. Homes there sold for 29.5% more than a year ago.
  • A majority of the counties in this report experienced prices rising substantially when compared to the second quarter of 2016, with several seeing significant, double-digit increases.
  • Home prices in Shoshone and Payette Counties decreased modestly last quarter, but I do not believe this will be an ongoing trend.



  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the region dropped 33 days when compared to the second quarter of 2016.
  • It took an average of 116 days to sell a home in Northern Idaho and 68 days in the Southern part of the state.
  • Homes in two of three Northern Idaho counties took less time to sell than they did in the same quarter of 2016. All of the Southern counties saw a drop in the time it took a home to sell.
  • Homes sold the fastest in Ada and Canyon Counties, where it took an average of 34 and 35 days, respectively, for homes to sell.


The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. Consumer confidence in the housing market seems to have returned, causing the markets in this report to perform well overall and for home prices to continue trending upward.

Even as home sales have slowed in some counties, the market is tight and will likely remain that way for the balance of the year. As such, I have put the needle well in favor of sellers. While I expect mortgage rates to rise modestly through the end of this year and into 2018, they are still very low compared to historic averages. This, in concert with Idaho’s expanding economy, will continue to result in a healthy housing market.



Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.




If you are in the market to buy or sell, we can connect you with an experienced agent here.


Central Washington Real Estate Market Update



Though Washington State’s economy has been expanding at a rapid pace, we are seeing a slowdown as the state gets closer to full employment. Given the strong economy, I expect income growth to move markedly higher in the second half of the year. I also expect the state to add around 70,000 jobs by the end of 2017.

Like much of the rest of the state, Central Washington continues to experience modest employment growth. An additional 1,300 jobs were created between May

2016 and May 2017, which drove the unemployment rate lower (from 6.3% to 5.4%). I believe we will see continued growth in employment, leading to further declines in the unemployment rate through the duration of 2017.



  • Home sales throughout Central Washington were mixed in the second quarter. Sales rose in three markets but dropped in one when compared to the second quarter of 2016. In total, there were 1,169 home sales in the quarter— an increase of 6.3% over the same period in 2016.
  • Sales rose at the fastest rate in Kittitas County, which had an impressive 28.3% increase over the second quarter of 2016. That said, the market is a small one, so sales activity can fluctuate quite dramatically.
  • The number of pending home sales— an indicator of future closings—was up across the board. As such, I expect to see regional home sales continue to rise as we move through the rest of the summer.
  • The number of homes for sale in the quarter was down 14.2% compared to the second quarter of last year. The market is clearly starved of inventory, which continues to push home prices higher.



  • Year-over-year, the average home price in the region rose by 9.1% to $275,979. Price growth remains robust as demand exceeds supply.
  • Yakima and Kittitas Counties saw relatively modest price increases. The other two counties in this market reported double-digit gains.
  • All counties in this report saw prices rise compared to the second quarter of 2016. Okanogan County led the way with an increase of 12.6%.
  • Home prices continue to grow at above average rates due to very limited supply, but I expect the rate of appreciation to start tapering later this year or in early 2018.



  • Across this market, the average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by 25 days when compared to the second quarter of 2016.
  • The average time it took to sell a home in the region was 98 days.
  • All markets contained in this report saw the time it took to sell a home drop from the same quarter in 2016.
  • Homes sold the fastest in Kittitas County, where it took an average of 49 days, which is 32 fewer days than it took to sell a home in the second quarter of last year.


This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the second quarter of 2017, the needle is well into sellers’ territory. Prices in several markets are still trending above average and inventory issues remain.

I anticipate that 2017 will continue favoring sellers and demand will continue to exceed supply.


Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.




If you are in the market to buy or sell, we can connect you with an experienced agent here.

Why You Should Stay Put and Improve the Home You Have

Here’s an architecture book for our times, when some homeowners are under water on mortgages, and the cycle of trading up has either stopped or slowed way, way down. In “Staying Put,” architect and writer Duo Dickinson has assembled a terrific and practical guide to help us make real improvements to our homes. Dickinson, an advocate of well-designed and affordable homes for all, has specialized in residential design for more than three decades.

This is not your typical architect’s book about design. There’s no obscure language nor design-for-design’s-sake ideas. It is a practical, down-to-earth guide that walks anyone through the rational process of how to remodel your house to get the home you want, from how to think about your house and overcoming hurdles to a list of “Duo’s Do’s and Don’ts” for the homeowner. Along the way, there’s plenty of nice before-and-after photos to help explain the points. Do read the book. You’ll be glad you did.


Staying Put 1: The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz


The cover says it all. The ubiquitous photo of a gorgeous, award-winning home that’s beyond most of us is replaced with images of a saw, cup of morning joe and a to-do list.

Are you staying put yourself? Read on for 8 of Dickinson’s suggestions.


Staying Put 2: Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz


Consider the compass points. The tips and illustrated examples are wonderfully straightforward. For example, we see a house that gets overheated, the siding degrades and the front door bakes in the sun because it all faces south.

Dickinson’s common-sense advice: Rework the front of the house with a new wide porch that shades the front door and some smaller, yet well-sized windows to create a lot more curb appeal while reducing maintenance and energy consumption. It’s a triple win: more beauty and comfort with less cost.

Avoid gutters. Statements such as “gutters and leaders are devoutly to be avoided” may sound like heresy to many, but certainly are the truth. Proving his point, Dickinson illustrates how a properly-built roof overhang can shed all the water it must without the complications, such as ice dams, caused by gutters.

Embrace small moves. Dickinson provides a wealth of simple solutions illustrated with before-and-after photos. He shows how to use small moves for big dividends, such as taking out a wall between a kitchen and a hallway to make room for more kitchen storage.


Staying Put 3: Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz


Enhance curb appeal. The book offers solutions to common problems with a particular style, such as how to improve and enhance an entrance into a split-level home.

Open up to the outside. Dickinson provides some excellent examples of how we can use modern windows and doors to strengthen the connection between inside and outside. Our homes, says Dickinson, no longer need be “later-day caves.”

Find your home. Learning more about the style of the house you have will help you avoid obstacles in remodeling and recognize the best opportunities for improving your particular home.


Staying Put 4: Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz


Open up the inside. Snippets of advice sprinkled throughout the book are like refreshing raindrops that clear the cobwebs away. One such snippet: “If you walk through a room to get to a room, something is wrong.” You know — it’s when that new great room gets added onto a modest house, and the result is some kind of dyslexic creature that’s really two houses rather than one.

So rather than even building an addition, Dickinson suggests you make the most of what you already have. In this example, widening the opening between rooms strengthens this room’s connection with the rest of the home, increasing its utility and spaciousness.


Staying Put 5: The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz


Work with what you’ve got (before): Keeping the kitchen size the same while vaulting the ceiling dramatically increases the overall spaciousness of the room, as you’ll see in the next photo.


Staying Put 6: Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz


Work with what you’ve got (after): Walls, doors, appliances and even the skylight and kitchen sink were all left where they were. This all avoided costly plumbing, electrical and mechanical work and rework.


Staying Put 7: The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz


Working with what you’ve got (plans): Dickinson has included before-and-after floor plans for many of the examples. These plans help provide that much more context, allowing the reader to better understand what they may be able to do with the home they already have.


By Bud Dietrich AIA, Houzz 

Why Owning a Home is Such a Smart Investment


After succumbing to the “Great Recession” ten years ago, the stock market has made a comeback. So, does that mean you should forget about buying a new house and invest in stocks instead? The answer to that question, say experts, depends on your investing savvy, your financial discipline, your age, and your current financial situation.

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I disciplined enough to invest in stocks?” According to two professors who recently studied 30 years of personal-finance performance, you need to be someone with exceptional financial discipline if you want to earn real money in the stock market. Or, you could simply buy a house.

When you buy real estate, the down payment and monthly mortgage payments force you to set aside a significant amount of your earnings on a regular basis. It’s automatic. But if you can’t summon the same discipline to invest that same amount of money in the stock market on an equally regular basis, then stocks are probably going to be a losing proposition, according to the professors’ study.

“We find that if people don’t invest all the money, actually about 90% of the time, you’re better off buying real estate,” says Professor Eli Beracha, co-author of the study.


Other issues that make stock investing risky

Investing guru James Altucher wrote a column in The Wall St. Journal titled, “8 Reasons You Stink at Trading Stocks.” In it, he argues that most non-professionals don’t have the investing savvy required to be successful in the stock market. Here are a few telling excerpts:

  • “Nine out of 10 people think they are above-average drivers. Nine out of 10 people think they are above-average investors. Both are mathematically impossible.”
  • “Most people sell at the bottom and buy at the top—the opposite of what you want to do as an investor—because they let emotions get in the way of patience and strategy.”
  • “It’s really hard to own stocks. It’s not just picking a stock and watching it go up 1,000%. It’s buying it and sometimes watching it go down 80% before it ends up rising 20% above your purchase price. It’s waiting. It’s patience. Psychology is at least 80% of the game. And knowing when to sell? Even harder.”


Age matters

When you’re young, many financial advisors encourage investing in things like individual stocks. With a long career ahead, you have time to wait for any bad investments to turn around before you may really need the money. But once you’re a little older, with a family, and starting to focus on your financial future, that’s when advisers recommend you buy things like real estate—a conservative investment with a long history of stable, predictable earnings.


The type of loan you choose also makes a difference

If you want to both own a home and invest in stocks, consider a 30-year home loan, which will significantly reduce your monthly payments and leave you with extra money for playing the market. (Just remember the tradeoff: You’ll end up paying thousands of dollars more in interest over the life of the loan.)

If you don’t have a burning desire to play the stock market, choose a 15-year home loan. You’ll pay less interest over the life of the loan, you’ll build equity faster, and, obviously, you’ll be mortgage-free 15 years sooner.


The tax advantages of owning real estate

As a homeowner, you’re entitled to a bevy of tax benefits you don’t get as a stock investor. You can deduct your mortgage interest and property taxes from your annual tax return. Plus, depending on your circumstances, you could also get a deduction or credit for any home-office expenses, moving expenses, capital gains, any “points” used to lower your interest rate, and more.


One caveat: investing in real estate takes time

No matter what some of those reality TV programs show, buying a home should not be viewed as a get-rich-quick scheme. But if you think you’re ready to put down roots for as long as seven years, chances are very good that any home you purchase will appreciate significantly during that time (even if the economy runs into some bumps along the way).


The non-financial benefits

Of course, not all of the benefits of owning a home are financial. For most Americans, their home is a source of tremendous pride, comfort, security and freedom. Most of us also use our homes to showcase our personality, through paint colors, furnishings, landscaping, yard signs, holiday decorations and so much more.

Yes, the stock market is on an upswing currently (depending on the week), but if you want an investment with a long-term track record of consistent returns—plus tax breaks and a variety of personal perks—you may want to buy a home instead.


If you have questions about the buying or selling process, or are looking for an experienced agent in your area, connect with us  here.