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Until recently, the longest time I lived in one place was five years, and my usual limit was two years. I have changed homes, transformed rooms to accommodate new uses, rented, bought, and sold homes, refinanced them, leveraged them, and invested in rental homes.
I've moved to save money, to seek or accept new employment, to find better schools, to move to a different location, or to collapse my commuting time. I moved to change environmentsthe suburbs, the city, the beach, the countryand for long periods, I shuttled between two homes at a time. My work required me to travel, and sometimes a city became a routine business destination. Whenever that happened, I thought about trading hotel life for local living, and once, I actually did it. Most of my moves, now that I look back on them, were wonderfully happy moves. A few were definitely losers.
Housing was also my business. As a mortgage banker, I financed thousands of houses, apartments, co-ops, and condominiums. As an investor, I rescued, renovated, restored, and remodeled houses. As the Director of Housing for an urban renewal agency, and other non-profit and for-profit organizations, I helped transform and uplift the lives of low-wage, inner-city, middle-income, Caribbean Island, and Native American populations by helping them become homeowners. For my doctoral dissertation, I researched the social and psychological ties we have to housing and I examined the differences homeownership makes to people who are able to achieve it. Not surprisingly, my research results empirically supported the prevailing wisdom surrounding homeownership as a personal and an American ideal.
Sincecompleting my thesis, and increasingly during the past decade, financial research has more frequently crossed the line into the social and behavioral sciences. In turn, the social and behavioral sciences grapple with questions about personal financial literacy and financial management. At the heart of this emerging body of research is the home. Perhaps nowhere else can we learn so much about ourselves and one another as when we consider our values, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and customs in the context of the financial realities, constraints, opportunities, and investment potential of our homes. Nothing else motivates us to learn how to handle money better than the prospect of owning or investing in our homes. Yet, partially due to the complexity of the times in which we live, and partially due to credit availability and increasingly creative advertising, we have fallen behind the "personal financial knowledge curve" we need to master. It doesn't have to be this way.
I've learned from my research, teaching, and the people I've helped to housefrom college students to older retirees seeking assisted living arrangementsthat our decisions about homes can be financially and personally enhancing or exactly the opposite, depending upon the mindset, willingness to learn, and emotional baggage we bring to the transactions. Housing emotions can derail us financially. They can be so powerful in fact that during seminars I offer on home and decision-making, I've seen grown men and women cry over home-connected memories. One man who was about 50 years old, a participant in a half-day workshop, suddenly began weeping uncontrollably and had to leave the room. He later told me he had not allowed himself to grieve over the loss of his wife almost two years earlier. The exercises in the workshop had loosened memories he suppressed "far too long," he said. The experience of home can be so intimate that I've witnessed participants heal childhood trauma by revisiting the homes of their past through exercises designed expressly for this purpose.
My hope is that 10 Secrets to Successful Home Buying and Selling will simplify what can be a complicated, intimidating, and emotionally draining experience for many. By introducing you to your own "housing psychology," better negotiating and decision skills will be more accessible to you as a homebuyer, seller, renter, and housing investor. 10 Secrets to Successful Home Buying and Selling is not just a how-to book, but an introduction to a whole new strategy that can transform the way you approach housing decisionsand maybe other financial decisions as well.
Lois A. Vitt
Middleburg, VA http://www.RealityStudies.com
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