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Bill Joyce: (916) 206-7282

What is Surviving the American Dream?

Somewhere along the line the noble ambition of home ownership slipped into murky territory. What was once the cornerstone of a family's personal and financial well being has become a participant in a declining American standard of living. We are conditioned to have faith that owning our own homes is the path to happiness and prosperity. While that may have been the case a generation back, today's reality is most of us are working longer hours, have less disposable income and save far too little to fund our ever growing retirement years.

The sensationalized image of owning your 'Dream Home' is right at the center of the modern tradition of spending as much as we can borrow to buy the nicest home we can find. This has had the effect of driving home prices to the very edge of affordability... and drawing the attention of institutional investors who are very good at studying, and profiting from the very predictable behavior of the home buying (and borrowing) public.

I believe the happiness and long term satisfaction we get from a home has been grossly oversold over the years. Yes, beautiful homes are a pleasure to enjoy...but they come at a high cost.

Surviving The American Dream is my attempt to encourage a more cautious and modest approach to home buying. Forget the Dream Home and think 'Dream Life'. Family, health, community, finances, leisure, retirement, time. A house is a small component of the life well lived...but the decisions we make when buying a home permeate every aspect of our lives from that point forward... largely because of the under-appreciated financial obligation you are making and the unpredictability of the current housing market.

It’s Time for a More Meaningful Dream

It’s Time for a More Meaningful Dream

I am not sure how it got started, but the idea of a ‘Dream Home’ has come to mean the biggest most beautiful home you can afford. As it turns out, this isn’t the path to happiness. A ‘Dream Home’ should be the home most compatible with the life you dream of living. When I was a boy, I shared a room with my brother. Of course, our sister got her own room. It was a small home in a modest but pleasant neighborhood. It may not have been the most ideal arrangement but we did fine. I don’t remember ever feeling cheated. In time, my parents were able to move us into a bigger home. My best guess is that the new house was around 1600 square feet. Although that is small by today’s standards, it all[...]

Featured Articles

Living Below Your Means: Interview with Matthew Miglin

Living Below Your Means: Interview with Matthew Miglin

Common financial wisdom tells us to live “within our means.” But is that really good enough or is that cutting it a little too close? What if we chose instead to live “below” our means? I spoke with Matthew Miglin (a business owner, financial advisor, and Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor (LCPC)) about this topic as it pertains to the decision to buy a home. Based on his experiences, Matthew believes that most people take this life-changing decision more lightly than they should.(more...)
Personal financial fitness, Choice and Intentionality in Home Buying.  Surviving The American Dream: Stacey Powell of www.TheFinanceGym.com

Personal financial fitness, Choice and Intentionality in Home Buying. Surviving The American Dream: Stacey Powell of www.TheFinanceGym.com

Stacey Powell is a former financial auditor and founder of The Financial Gym, a small business which helps people get out of the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. She believes that simply by spending more time focusing on finances, it’s possible to break free of this cycle. She confesses that the idea for the project was born out of her own “financial disaster” when she found herself stuck in the debris of a financially devastating divorce. Although she had always(more...)
There's more to life than being stuck in a house payment.  Becky Wolfe On Paying Down Debt, Income Properties & Financial Freedom

There's more to life than being stuck in a house payment. Becky Wolfe On Paying Down Debt, Income Properties & Financial Freedom

BECKY WOLFE ON FINANCIAL FREEDOM I recently sat down to talk with Becky Wolfe, a physician’s assistant, blogger, and mom from Ohio. Besides her experiences as a home buyer, she is also the author of Frame to Freedom, a blog about achieving a debt-free lifestyle. In addition, I talked with her about her experience of building wealth with real estate. Becky began by describing her experience of buying her first home, which she did “without much thought” even before she and her(more...)
How much is that house really worth? Appraisals in the Home Purchase Process

How much is that house really worth? Appraisals in the Home Purchase Process

So it’s time for the appraisal.  An appraiser is someone that is hired by the buyer but essentially works for the lender to investigate the property.  Most importantly, an appraiser determines the value of the property as security for the loan that you (the buyer) are going to get on the property. Why is the Appraisal Important? If a bank is going to lend several hundred thousand dollars, they want to make sure that if things go badly and you decide not(more...)
Budgets, Accountability & Values: Interview with Life Coach Elizabeth Farrell

Budgets, Accountability & Values: Interview with Life Coach Elizabeth Farrell

As a real estate broker, I’ve witnessed a lot of pain and suffering as a result of poor choices about home ownership. I often wonder how to help families take more control of their financial future to avoid that. I sat down with Elizabeth Farrell to discuss this question. Elizabeth gracefully balances many responsibilities as a co-active life coach, yoga teacher, and a mom. She took some time out from these worthy endeavors to share a few valuable life lessons(more...)
Financial planning for a home purchase: An interview with Denise Downey at FinancialTrex.com

Financial planning for a home purchase: An interview with Denise Downey at FinancialTrex.com

The lure of the ‘dream home’ is powerful and seductive. Every couple or family yearns to have a beautiful home in the perfect neighborhood. A source of personal satisfaction, comfort and pride. Those who work in real estate or mortgage financing, are aware of this seductive pull. While most agents and lenders want to make their clients happy, very few are encouraging buyers to borrow less, buy less and settle for less. That just sounds bad. I had a conversation about this(more...)
Happily Ever After: Finding the right home at the right price

Happily Ever After: Finding the right home at the right price

Once the idea to buy a home takes root and you have a budget (usually from a lender(which is a bad idea-more on this later)) most home shoppers generally begin the process of comparison shopping. Much as we would approach buying a car or a television, we start learning about what is available, the features and amenities we want and how much we can get for our money. Essentially, finding the very best house we can find for the money(more...)
You Can't Buy the Life You Dream Of

You Can't Buy the Life You Dream Of

I remember years ago watching a documentary on the last months of a terminally ill Warren Zevon. I knew his music and liked it well enough, but wouldn’t have considered myself a fan. Having recently lost my own mother to a slow, painful death by cancer (and equally toxic cures) it was essentially an early ‘reality TV’ show letting you see the life of a man facing his own mortality. Aside from a powerful reminder that we are all fortunate(more...)
Homebuyer Priorities: Focus on the Things You Can’t Change

Homebuyer Priorities: Focus on the Things You Can’t Change

As a home buyer, you will have many things on your list of wants and needs - big rooms, chef’s kitchen, big yard, and granite. Often, these things consume our minds when making choices for our home purchase. However, I am here to tell you to think bigger than that. When you are searching for a home, you will be making choices, trade offs and compromises. Be sure to be mindful of the bigger picture. One thing to be aware of(more...)
May 2016 Elk Grove Housing is Roughly 83% of 2005 Prices

May 2016 Elk Grove Housing is Roughly 83% of 2005 Prices

An April 2016 article by Hudson Sangree on the Sacramento Bee website  shows Sacramento Area median home prices are back to 2004 levels. According to housing research firm Corelogic Analyst Andrew LePage “We’re roughly back to where we were before the sharpest part of the run-up”. I'm not sure 2004 is particularly noteworthy as it falls as some point during the runup, but neither the beginning nor the end of a tumultuous market swing. But how far has the recovery come?(more...)
Making Our Homes a ‘Nest Egg’ Again

Making Our Homes a ‘Nest Egg’ Again

Research shows most people do not have enough money saved to retire comfortably or safely. In fact, the reality is Americans don't save enough for retirement. To get a better picture of what we’re dealing with, let’s look at some numbers: 40% of Americans age 55-64 have no money set aside for retirement Of those in that age that do have retirement accounts - the median balance is $120K according to the Federal Reserve Overall, the median retirement account balance for all working-age households in the U.S.(more...)
Real Estate Is Not Recovering...

Real Estate Is Not Recovering...

We have seen many years of financial destruction to millions of homeowners with wave after wave of foreclosures immediately followed by wave after wave of short sales - which was sadly a dramatic improvement. Now, we are hearing and seeing evidence that the housing market is recovering. Over the past couple of years, single-family home sales activity had skyrocketed and prices have risen dramatically. Millions of formerly underwater homeowners are back in the black with home equity once again. And for(more...)
A Quick Look At Affordibility

A Quick Look At Affordibility

There is a connection between personal income and housing prices.  If housing prices increase at a faster pace than income for any extended period of time, housing will become overpriced compared to the local markets’ ability to afford it and it will inevitably return to equilibrium.  This means price declines... at least relative to incomes.  Essentially, we can't expect our homes to appreciate faster than the local markets ability to afford it. The underlying premise is that we will spend the limit(more...)
Have Low Interest Rates Been Good For Real Estate?

Have Low Interest Rates Been Good For Real Estate?

The general belief is that the extremely low interest rates we've seen over the past 10 to 12 years or so have been good for the affordability of housing. While in the short-term this may be true, by driving down a monthly payment for a given price on a home, the longer-term effect has been driving prices higher and higher and potentially creating a disastrous long-term impact on the affordability of homes. Low interest rates and liberal lending standards have made(more...)
Home: An Appreciating Asset Filled With Depreciating Stuff

Home: An Appreciating Asset Filled With Depreciating Stuff

I believe I could make the argument that home ownership, in its current form, is making us poorer because of the depreciating consumer goods we choose to fill it with. While at its very heart, a home is a magnificent kernel of responsible living and financial well-being, over the years it has become something more…and certainly more destructive. We have come to believe it is obviously the wise financial choice for anyone in a position to buy a home to simply(more...)
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By Bill Joyce, Broker (916) 500-2492 Bill Joyce on Google+




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