A: Whether you rent or own should depend on two factors: your need to be mobile and your personal finances. I could live anywhere. I don't have kids, am not married, and my job is completely mobile. But all that could change. If you see yourself staying in an area five to 10 years, and you have the down, you should seriously consider owning.
The timing to buy has to be right personally. Lately I see buyers getting too caught up in the market, jumping on a house because interest rates are low. That can be a mistake.
Q: I know you're a big fan of compact, convenient housing. Does that mean you're anti-big house in the 'burbs?
A: Absolutely not. They're right for some. They're great for big families, for multigenerational families, for those who crave space, and those who work from home.
Q: In your book, you talk a lot about delight, which you say gets shortchanged.
A: Delight has to be an equal player with function and cost, yet delight gets ignored because it can't be quantified. How many bedrooms, kitchen size, appraisal value and costs are hard facts. When function, cost and delight work together, they keep each other in check. Find the sweet spot, and there you will find the right home.
Q: Once we find a place that meets our criteria, how can we be sure it's the one?
A: We all have a pretty good internal compass. We get in trouble when we don't listen to it. You think you want to do something. It feels right. Then you're told by those around you that you're making the wrong choice. When you stop and listen to yourself, you know what to do.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.