Talk of the Town

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4 surprising effects your home has on your health, finances and relationships

Sales of new homes fell last month -- just one month after rising to the highest level in nearly nine years. The decline occurred in every region of the country except the West.

In the South, sales were down 12.3 percent and one of the biggest reasons is the lack of inventory.

Related: Sales of new homes tumbled 7.6 percent in August

Home buying shouldn't be an impulse purchase, but since 2006, buyers feeling pressured by an ever-changing housing market and fearing they will never be able to afford a home, have sunk their money into houses with the latest and greatest, no matter the ultimate cost.

After having his own borderline relationship ruining experiences of buying homes -- once with his brother and again with his then girlfriend (now wife) -- Matt Parker, a real estate agent and author based in Seattle, decided it was time to offer a new real estate guide for a new generation of home buyers.

In "Real Estate Smart: The New Home Buying Guide," ($10) Parker offers home buyers science backed reasons to look beyond counter tops and coats of paint at the things that really matter -- how a house can impact your health, your relationships and your finances.

"(People) look for superficial things. The problem is you are left with a decade of dealing with the thing that really matter," said Parker. "The house is in a lot of ways more important (to your health) than what you eat and the doctor you go to."

Many of his findings are the things no one thinks about when making a decision to purchase a home. Living on a tree-lined street, for example, means a lower likelihood of car accidents and lower postwork stress.

Living on a street with a registered sex offender, however, can reduce the value of your property by 12 percent. People, said Parker, can be more important than places when deciding where to live.

If we choose a home that is too large, it can lead to clutter which leads to stress -- particularly for the family matriarch. Parker's research concludes that less is more means better health and better finances, since you'll also pay a maintenance cost above and beyond your mortgage for any unused rooms in your house.

We've all heard the statistics about couples who co-habit being more likely to divorce. Parker suggests part of the reason is driven by their real estate choice. If you invest in a home together, you may feel trapped in a bad relationship until you break even on the house -- an average of about seven years.

One of the most important things buyers can do is take it slow and pay attention to the smaller things to make a smart decision for you and your family, Parker said.

"People have a group fear that they will be priced out of the market forever," he said. "Don’t shop for a house like you shop for a car."

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.