I have noticed an uptick in home sales in our area. Once again, homes are selling in my neighborhood even before they make the real estate listings. The current national average rate for a 30-year fixed home mortgage is 4.04% as of June 11th, up from 3.87% at the beginning of the year.
There are plenty of indications that interest rates will rise; exactly when, how much, and how fast is not known. It’s that unknown factor that causes some anxiety.
I got to thinking about my own experience with mortgage interest rates and thought I would share it with you. We made a number of moves from 1976-1988. Looking back, the need for those moves is somewhat less apparent now than it seemed at the time. Certainly, better location and the desire for additional space were factors in our decisions. Also, historically, it had seemed to us that our house was our biggest and best “investment” and we did well in our moves. Times have changed and we now know that we should not depend on our house as an investment.
We bought our first home in 1976 for $47,000. Located at 8666 Sunny Hill Drive, the name said it all! I loved that house and we had a lot of fun making it our own after living in an apartment for four years.
We bought it directly from the owner to save expenses and, fortunately, all went well with that sale. Since this was our first home buying experience, that could have been a big mistake! At that time, the average 30-year fixed home mortgage rate happened to be 8.75%.
A couple years later, we had our first child, Elliott. We felt our location might not be the right place for us to raise a family, long-term. Of course, we hadn’t given that much thought when we bought the house two years earlier!
In 1979, with 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates at 11.6%, we bought a builder spec home in a newer area with lots of young families located closer to friends, activities and within easy walking distance of the neighborhood elementary school. It was a very positive lifestyle change that would have a positive influence on our family for many years to come. A few perks were added in this second home, including a two-car garage and a first-floor family room. We thought we were set.
We then had our second child, a daughter, Meredith, and soon after, we were expecting our third, a son, Austin. By 1982, we decided that house number two was too small for our growing family and we decided to build again.
We wanted to stay in the same neighborhood close to established friends, and our same elementary school. Interest rates on 30-year fixed home loans averaged 16.82% when we closed in August of ’82, down from a high of 18.45% in October of 1981. That seems astronomical given where interest rates are today. The move made sense to us at the time, though, and we made it work. All was good with three children and a new home that we designed and built for the long-term – that is until we got the bug again in 1987, expecting child number four, Gabrielle, and decided to build yet again (I have to admit that I like the process of building houses). The 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was a bit over 10% when we moved into our new home in June of 1988. I guess it seemed pretty reasonable at the time.
The point is, what works is relative to the time and situation. We had no debt other than our home mortgage during our years of moving from home to home. We also did not acquire mortgages for more than our income could support.
Things change and experience shapes our response to change. We may not always be able to influence the changes that happen to us, but we do control our response. Looking back at my own mortgage history, I certainly could have a, “What were you thinking?” perspective on some of the decisions that were made. I don’t. I’m certain that our parents, who lived in the same home for 40 years, had some thoughts about our need for bigger houses. Always wise, they kept those thoughts to themselves. I tend to think about the positives of each move we made. My most recent move was 18 years ago when I moved to a much smaller house without a mortgage. I didn’t build or design it, but I have been very happy living in this space and making it my own. The peace of mind of having a home that is paid for is, well, priceless.
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