Roger Schlesinger
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Think back to your first home where you celebrated the holidays in your style. Not the house you lived in with your parents, not the hovel you shared with some other college students, not the first apartment when you were on your own, but the house that you bought, you decorated and you loved. That's the house that started your adult life and made you feel hopefully as good as I did at age 27. Those who follow my columns know that when I bought the first house, right after I got engaged, I forgot to check the bedroom count and I had a huge sigh of relief when the Realtor told me the next day that it had three bedrooms. Wouldn't it be nice for you to have a home of your own for the holidays (well, at least a home that you and the bank own)? The only one stopping you is you, but we'll get back to that in a while.

We have bought and sold over a dozen homes since that first one, and never have I been less than ecstatic the day my wife and I get the keys to the new place. My kids on the other hand look at the houses we buy and simply say, why? Then they wait to see the plans and are as excited as we are after the remodel is done. We just have problems buying someone else's dream - we prefer to create our own. We created a winter wonderland in Lake Tahoe, taking a 3 bedroom house and making a two bedroom rustic retreat, complete with log accents and a deck off the master bedroom that put me into the forest with a two person hot tub. At night after a nice winter snow had fallen, I would go out and sit in the tub, my dog by the side of it, animals and snow covered pines just off the property, and I would stare at the surroundings and feel peace that I had never felt before. My wife, who grew up in New Jersey, was not a fan of snow. I, on the other hand, had grown up in Southern California and found it mystical and thrilling, not cold and wet.

We sold the house several years ago and moved on, but it just takes a crisp breeze in the late fall or early winter for me to return in my mind to my favorite forest and be back into the spell I had been in on my deck. This particular house wasn't the most expensive we have ever owned, nor the largest, but it was easily one of the most memorable. Size, cost, design, and function are integral parts of every house, but far from the essential ones. As far as I am concerned, the unique experience of owning your own dwelling, being master of your castle and knowing that you are beginning to build your future on a sound financial bedrock is the real reward to home ownership. It can't be done while renting. Our forefathers didn't fight the good fight to come here and rent!

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Roger Schlesinger

Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.