Are you becoming wealthy on your house? Is your home your best performing investment? Is your house the only area that of your investments in which you are making money?
Red danger signals should be appearing in your mind. The housing market has gone up, up and up. Many people believe that they “have made x dollars from their house”. Is this true? Is this realistic? Will they ever be able to see or use their new found wealth?
It is true that. Even in 2004 it was said that housing prices had risen the most in 2004 in the past 25 years – that the OFHEO price increase was 13.4 %. Prices have been double digit and seemed to be able to go up and up forever. Indeed the price run-up from 1997 to 2006 was the largest in history.
What fueled this seemingly endless run-up in housing prices? The answer in 3 words was “low interest rates. China it seems wanted to maintain high employment figures for political and economic reasons. In order to maintain high employment levels the price of Chinese goods – at Wal-Mart or wherever had to remain low. If the Chinese currency remained low relative to the U.S. dollar or if the U.S. dollar remained at relatively high levels in relation to the Chinese currency this would be accomplished. It amazing that in our small global world decisions made by someone or a group of people in China can affect yours and mine economic position and future so greatly.
As a result China chose to pump money back into the U.S. buying U.S. treasury bills enmasse. The Amerian dollar remained high , the Chinese currency low. You could buy Chinese made goods cheaply at Walmart or Target stores. And interest and mortgage interest rates were at historically low levels.
As a result you could now purchase a house , upgrade your house or purchase a much larger and expensive house than you could of previously. Your banker or mortgage lender was only too happy to loan you the money for the mortgage – after all the loan , or mortgage was secured by good old fashioned real estate as collateral.
The housing market soared. People who could never of afforded to buy a home , condo or land could now afford one. So many new and additional buyers were entering the real estate market that not only did the demand for homes and other real estate increase but there were bidding wars for properties and sale and the supply for more and more houses and other forms of real estate diminished and housing prices soared. You may well of heard stories of people putting the proverbaial shingle on their home one morning and having it sold for unbelievable sale prices by the end of the day.
Along with this home builders were building scads of homes and selling them at these high sale prices. Mortgage lenders and banks were facilitating the process by selling and marketing low priced mortgages called “subprime” mortgages which offered an initial period of lower rates, the rate charged reverted to regular rates after the introductory period.
The key to all of this was that prices kept going up, up and up. There was no end in site. Not only that but what fueled the boom further was the fear that if you did not get in that you would be locked out in the future. The same house had risen from say $ 200,000 a number of years ago to $ 400,000 to $ 500,000 in one year, if I do not get in the market now; the reasoning went that home could be $ 600,000 or $ 750,000 next year. By getting in now I will get equity and be in the game. If I stay out – my family and I may be locked out of owning a home ever.
So went the logic. As well it seemed that the only place the family could make money in their investments was in the value of their home. One could not seem to “make money “in other traditional investments such as the stock market or their retirement plans.
Which brings us to the basic question? How is money being made? Can you ever spend this money for enjoyment or other goods? At coffee a Mr. Brown may tell you “I made $ 250,000 on my house.” It is true that profits on the sale of your home are treated different and better than other moneys made but the question is how did Brown come out ahead? He will be purchasing another property in the same market. As is said you “have to live somewhere”. If your house sold for a good dollar, that it was desirable, and was a nice home located in a nice neighborhood. It is highly unlikely that you are going to move to a much less desirable, more dangerous neighborhood where housing is much cheaper. You may be going to downsize somewhat but you are not going to move to a slum after enjoying luxury. So it goes this is not liquid profit that you can easily cash out. Even if you or wife decides that it is now time to sell the house since you can get a good price and “We can live in an apartment. So what!” you may well find out in a year that apartment living is not all it is cracked up to be. It was no accident in the past that you scrimped and saved to buy a house and move away from that noisy small, cramped apartment to a house. So it goes that after being reminded of your lesson that you find out that being out of the house and into an apartment for a year that it will cost you substantially for being out of your home for a year.
This all brings us back to our first question. Are you becoming wealthy on your house?