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IMHO home ownership should be about life style and affordability...not about investing.

There are no purchases of the size of a home that I make without considering return in addition to other factors. We bought the house we did 10 years ago because of it's superior market positioning for resale value:
-excellent nationally ranked top 10% public schools
-taxes half of neighboring townships with similar schools (savings of about $7K/year)
-walkable neighborhood with access to miles of township hiking trails
-good sized lots without being isolated
-neither the cheapest nor most expensive home in neighborhood
-easy access to various commutes in several directions and short drive to public transportation to city
-solid home with modern vibe, large rooms with open floor plan
-low maintenance

Renting a similar middle class home would cost us about $1,500 more per month over our PITI. Some of this has been offset by repairs that came out of our pocket, rather than the landlord, but the costs of ownership have not been high, and it's almost impossible to rent a home here. It is going on the market next year when we downsize for retirement. Based on this year's market I expect to get roughly a sales price 25% higher than purchase after netting our sales costs. That is with having bought near the top of the housing bubble.

We had our choice of three states when we transferred, but went with the best school district for the tax money, even though it cost us an extra 25% at purchase. We had kids to consider, but it is clear to me that a good school district will hold it's value better in down years, accelerate in value faster in good. I would rather buy less house in a good district than more at the same price in a poor district, even without kids to use those schools.

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