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Introduction to “Clark Smart Real Estate”
By Clark Howard

Buying a home represents so many things to us as Americans. First and foremost, owning a home is a dream, one of the major accomplishments of a person’s life. More practically, it’s a place to live. And lastly, it’s an investment. Building equity by paying down the mortgage, and from the rising value of the house, is one of the principal ways to build wealth for most people and families.

Over the last several years, people in many parts of the country came to believe that housing is a “can’t lose” investment. It isn’t, as they are finding out. House prices generally grow steadily over time. In some hot housing markets, they can rise rapidly, just as stocks can rise, and fall, rapidly, too. If your plan is to buy houses as a speculator—hoping to own for a short time, then sell for a quick profit—this book is not for you. But this is very much the right book for you if you’d like to own a house either to live in or as an investment property, and you believe owning property can be a way to make money over time.

My goal is to give you basic, fundamental tools to demystify the process of buying and owning a home, so that you will be in a position to make a very wise series of decisions. And that’s what buying a house is—not a single decision but a series of decisions that add up either to a smart purchase or one that isn’t quite as wise.

Which neighborhood or neighborhoods are right for you? Should you live in a condominium or a traditional single-family home? Should you buy a new house or a used house? If you make the correct choices, there’s a good chance you’ll be thrilled with your purchase.

One of the hardest things to do in buying a house is to base the decision on good judgment and not on emotion. Don’t fall in love with a house until you own it. If you do, you’ll pay too much. There probably are plenty of great houses that would be right for you.

I want you to take your time in buying a house, have a plan, and have fun.

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