Fort Mill Times

A bit of perspective helps

Sometimes we lose sight of what is important. In recent years many of us have thought of houses as quick sources of income, to be traded every two or three years. We may have wanted new so there was little maintenance, and we often focused on certain faddish upgrades rather than on structure or setting.

I am reminded of the Homeowners Act of 1997 – the legislation creating the allowable tax free profit of $250,000 per person every two years. Houses became short term investments. Serious money could be made by leveraging with high mortgages. This worked well, for a while. Some of us older than dirt folks, however, remember the days of hoarding receipts of capital improvements, of saving for years for 20 percent down payments, and of staying in a house for 10 years or more.

Making money on a house is great, don’t get me wrong! But if we lose money when we sell – and during these difficult times, many sellers are losing – we need to keep a few things in mind. We enjoyed a tax advantage for the years of ownership. We may qualify for the new $6500 tax credit on our new purchase. Also, the loss may be perceived rather than real – based on inflated values from a few years ago.

And, we had a home. Not just a house, but a home. There’s a difference. We painted bedroom walls to make the kids happy. We planted perennials and watched them spread year after year. We may have buried a few pets.

The news is replete with unemployment woes and economic travails. Money is important. But profit can be more than financial. Profit can also be the smile on your daughter’s face as she comes down the stairs for prom – the same stairs she bumped down on her bottom just a few years before. Or turning on to your street and stopping to chat with the neighbor out teaching his kid to ride a bike. Or living close to your grandchildren so you can be an integral part of their lives.

Time to buy? Sell? You could be run over by a truck tomorrow. Consider the big picture, be wise – and enjoy the truly important things in life.

Kathryn Miller is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United Realty. She can be reached at