Q: The thing that scares me the most about buying a house is all of the unexpected costs that might come up. If I get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the mortgage payment will stay the same, so I don’t have to worry about that. But what about taxes, insurance and maintenance? It seems like those things could change a lot over the time I own the home.

A: If there is a silver lining of the current housing crisis, it is that future homebuyers make their real estate and mortgage decisions much more deliberately, and place a greater value on ensuring that their mortgage and other ownership obligations are sustainable in the context of their household financial plans. The lesson is worthless, though, if you allow fear to run rampant and unchecked by reality, paralyzing you from buying while prices and rates are low and depriving your family of the advantages of homeownership.

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