It’s a common belief that owning a home is an investment, but the reality is otherwise. While the national year-over-year appreciation rate of 14.5% (as of April 2021) may seem high, this figure includes both areas where housing prices are skyrocketing as well as regions where appreciation is relatively low. Once you add the costs of owning a home—mortgages, taxes and home repairs—into the equation, the actual appreciation rate of the average home barely matches the inflation rate. So, for many people, their home not only isn’t an investment, but, depending on the never-sending cycle of home maintenance costs, it may end up being a money-losing proposition. That’s why you should think of your home solely as a place to live in, and one for which you need to set aside money each year for both ongoing maintenance as well as costly “surprises.” Making a list of when you last fixed your roof, had the exterior painted, installed a new furnace or central air conditioning system or bought a water heater, dishwasher or washer/dryer and estimating when they may need fixing or replacing can help you estimate how much you should put aside each year-- 1% of your home's market value may be a good place to start--and financially prepare you when these “surprises” occur. Having this rainy-day fund is important, especially during retirement, because the last thing you want to do is to tap into your retirement nest egg to pay for emergency expenses, especially if making a non-required withdrawal from your IRA or 401(k) plan assists could raise your taxes.
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