Whenever I feel overwhelmed about my upside-down home in Bakersfield, Calif., I remind myself of the mantra I’ve heard over and over from real estate and financial planning professionals: "Any time is the right time to invest in real estate."

During the boom earlier this decade, when home prices were skyrocketing here, it was the "perfect time" for first-time homebuyers to get into the market. Interest rates were low and homeowners were upgrading to bigger properties, leaving many starter homes available for sale.

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