My wife and I refinanced our home a little over a year ago. We dropped a pt off our interest rate (which is now 5.5 fixed), and pay weekly (through our Credit Union), so we can have it paid off in 10 years or less.
It's just my own philosophy, but anymore it almost seems you're paying as much to rent as it is to own. I'm sure there are some advantages to renting; but if one can AFFORD to buy, then the investment is worth the while.
And it's a buyer's market in just about everything right now.
Our first home was a "fixer upper". It wasn't a shack; but needed numerous repairs and improvements. My wife and I rolled up our sleeves and did a majority of them ourselves other time. It paid off in the end when it came to sell the home and move up.