According to a recent story in the news, housing prices are on the rise. The story was quoted as saying, "If you're a homeowner, recent news about double-digit price increases sounds terrific." Why? I am a homeowner, so this news certainly impacts me. My most expensive asset is potentially going up in value. However, this particular reality is not that exciting for me at the moment because of one thing. Gains in home prices do not help me very much in terms of earning more money and paying my bills.
I already bought my house. We purchased a house in the late 90s, and at the time we thought that it was an incredibly expensive risk. For our earning at the time it probably was a risk, as buying a home is a risk for most people. However, we had no idea that prices were going to skyrocket over the next few years and then come crashing back to Earth. Now, prices are on the rise again and my home value is theoretically on the rise. What am I supposed to do with that value since I am already in?
Obviously this impacts those individuals that are planning on selling soon. I am not. Therefore, this news is interesting, but it does not change the fact that I still need to pay my mortgage and cover my household expenses. I cannot take the increased value of my home and lower the amount that I spend on gas each month. If you want to tell me that houses will be at record highs in 20-30 years, then I will get more excited.
The bigger picture
As I read news like this, I grasp that it may be more about other people than it is about me. However, I am still part of this economy, so every bit of news will impact me, even if that impact is subtle. Here in America we are still very much tied to the cultural idea of owning a home. This idea dates back many years, and even though some Americans should probably rent indefinitely, there is still something about the American Dream that compels people to pursue their own house. Therefore, I understand that housing prices can impact all sorts of economic issues, including the nebulous idea of "consumer confidence." I just know that in the short-term, housing fluctuations have very little impact on my life. I still have to meet the monthly budget.
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