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Rule #4: Be realistic.

Home values may be rising steadily in many parts of the country, but I want everybody to read this very carefully: Over the long term, you should expect your home's value to rise at a rate that slightly exceeds inflation. It's a solid investment, but not one on which you should expect to retire. Don't think that just because your home's value has had a great run you don't need to invest in your 401(k) and Roth IRA plans. Be better prepared than that.