Monday, August 23, 2010

Housing Article
Here is a New York Times article I have seen linked several places this morning.  The article jumps right to the point:
But many real estate experts now believe that home ownership will never again yield rewards like those enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century, when houses not only provided shelter but also a plump nest egg.
I hate "new paradigm" thinking.  When experts say "never again," that's a sign that there will be an "again."  I remember sitting through a number of presentations in the late 1990s where "experts" said that the tech stocks were experiencing a new paradigm,  and that traditional equity valuation methods were a thing of the past, or that technology was its own asset class, and that income investing made no sense, to name just a few absurdities spawned by the tech boom.  These experts' advice looked reckless when the stock market tanked in the early 2000s and tech companies without revenue or earnings went away.

Reading the article reminded me how the tech pundits overreached.  There are no new investing paradigms, just variations on existing principals.  Investment bubbles and bubble thinking are an investing paradigm and have been around for thousands of years.   Housing experienced a bubble in the 2000s (much like tech in the 1990s), and people used their homes to finance lifestyles, counting on rising market values and easy credit.  Real estate gurus, like tech stock gurus, were a dime a dozen.  Those days are gone, and the home prices dropped significantly.   People that bought homes during the bubble will have a long hold period, but home buyers today should fare well, especially if they take advantage of current low interest rate mortgages.

People used to buy a home, paid their mortgage, and at the end of mortgage owned the home and all its equity, which was either passed on or helped fund a retirement.  The notion of waiting thirty years for equity evaporated in the 1990s and 2000s.  Banks and mortgage brokers invented methods that allowed homeowners to tap their home equity, which effectively turned homeowners into renters.  A return to patience in home ownership is not a bad thing and will prove rewarding.

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