Trash Talking the Market

Brett Arends has had it up to here with all the trash talk.  “Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership,” Arends, a real estate reporter for the Wall Street Journal, says in his latest column entitled “10 Reasons to Buy a Home.

The housing market has seen troubled times.  But when Time Magazine announced in a recent cover feature that owning a home “may no longer make economic sense,” Arends decided to draw the line against such rubbish.  In his article, he chastises Time for blatantly contradicting a cover story it ran at the height of the boom.  That story “Home Sweet Home” celebrated the real estate boom even as it cheerfully posed the question:  “Will your house make you rich?”

Is it any wonder then why buyers are totally at sea about whether to purchase a home in today’s market even though all indicators say there’s rarely been a better moment in time?

Arends then proceeds to set the record straight with ten well-grounded reasons why owning a home is a very good thing.  Here are his “Whys:”

  1. You’ll get a great deal. Many buyers sped-up their purchases to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit, creating a temporary shortage of home buyers once the deadline passed.  With new buyers steadily creeping back into the market, determined sellers are more than willing to come to terms.
  2. Mortgages are cheap. 30-year fixed-rate loans bear the lowest interest rates in recorded history.
  3. You’ll save on taxes. You can deduct your mortgage interest and real estate taxes from your itemized federal taxes.  You’ll also get a tax break on capital gains when you sell.  For many, these tax savings make owning a home much less expensive than renting.
  4. It’ll be yours. You can have all the space and privacy you typically lack as an apartment dweller; and it will be all yours to improve as you please.
  5. You’ll get a better place to live. Want a better home in a better neighborhood? You’ll probably have to buy it.  Rentals like these are hard to find.
  6. Home ownership is a hedge against inflation. Long-term home ownership tends to beat inflation by a couple percentage points each year.
  7. It’s risk capital. When the economy rebounds, real estate prices will climb again; which will make you awfully glad you bought when you did.
  8. It’s forced savings. Your monthly rent is deposited into someone else’s bank account.  Your mortgage payment helps build your own wealth through home equity accrued over the long term.
  9. There’s plenty to choose from. Inventories are declining.  But there is still a good selection of homes at great prices.
  10. Sooner or later supply and demand will balance out. With the population forecast to grow by 100 million over the next few decades, roughly 40 million newly-formed households will be looking for homes. In the shorter term, with “Baby Boomers” retiring en masse, Florida will see more than its fair share of newcomers.

For more than ten years, real estate expert Steve Harney has kept a running comparison of the return on investment that real estate enjoys versus other traditional forms of investing. That comparison, shown on the  graph below, speaks for itself.  Even with all its recent woes accounted for, on average $100 invested in the real estate market back on January 1, 2000 would be worth $143.40 as of June 30, 2010; compared with $90.10 for the Dow, $80.90 for the S&P and $53.60 for NASDAQ.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, don’t let negative or sensationalized headlines be your sole persuader.  Even journalists who write many of the stories behind the headlines are rebelling against the idea that real estate is on its way out as the foundation of many Americans’ wealth.  We’ve certainly had our ups and downs over the years, but that’s expected in every investment’s cycle.  As Arends suggests, we are getting much closer to a sustained up cycle.  Read as much as you can from the sources you trust.  That way you’re most likely to make the right decision for you, and with confidence.   Above all, don’t let trash talk rob you of one of the most opportune moments in real estate history.

  • User Gravatar Jane Faust
    September 24th, 2010

    Nothing will ever take the place of the safety, security, stability, and comfort a family feels when they are in their own home. You can not put a price on that.

    Those articles should be written for those who got us in this mess in the first place…the ones who calculate everything according to a figure on a screen. The ones who sit in their comfort and hedge bets with other peoples’ lives. And then when it fails, they blame their greed on some random factor and tell families to give up the “American Dream” of owning their own home.

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