Some real estate experts are suggesting we are in the midst of another housing bubble. Although it's true home values have made 16 straight months of gains, most of us are just closing the gap between what our home is worth and what we originally paid. According to a recent article by CNBC, online searches for "real estate listings" are up 256 percent compared to a year ago.
I've noticed a lot of people will go to great lengths to twist the facts around so they feel as though they made good real estate deals. Some of the people I know who purchased their current home at the "bottom" still had to sell their other property at the bottom. Some people may have felt like they made money when they sold at the "top" of the bubble, but often purchased at the top as well. I know I personally made some mistakes and did some things right when it came to the last housing bubble. I hope I can share what I learned with my sons as they hunt real estate deals as young adults.
Shaking off the negative equity
According to the CNBC article, many homeowners are now free of negative equity, which means they are more willing to list their homes. Even though we now have positive equity in our home, that doesn't mean we would actually turn a profit by selling. To the contrary, we bought our home for about $180,000. It could now sell for about $135,000. We would be far better off renting out our home if we wanted to move. We could rent out our home for $1,200 a month. With a mortgage of $900 and $100 fees to a property manager, we'd pocket $200 a month. But the real benefit would be having someone else pay our mortgage for us until housing prices truly recover.
Becoming a renter versus a homeowner
Although my husband and I plan to stay put, we do have two sons who will be eventually buying real estate properties. I'm not worried about another housing bubble. The fact is most of their older peers can't afford to purchase expensive homes because of their high debt-to-income ratio due to student loan debt. Also, there will be no real shortage of housing inventory as baby boomers move into assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In fact, there will be a surplus of homes. If there is a mini housing boom, I'll encourage my sons to rent until home prices are more reasonable. Although my son in college considered buying a condo, he ended up finding an apartment with reasonable rent that included utilities.
Owning two homes as a 'snowbird'
My father-in-law owns two homes as a "snowbird." For him, the issue of whether or not we are at the start of another housing bubble is extremely relevant. If housing prices continue to go up, he would sell one of his two homes. However, at this point, his Florida home or vacation home is still worth less than he purchased it for. Since he loves being a snowbird, he will wait it out. Unless this mini housing boom turns out to be extremely short-lived, he will do fine to wait it out.
In my opinion, calling the current housing market a "bubble" is no different than acting as though everyone would be a millionaire if they kept all their money in stocks during this recent bull market. It all depends when a person bought or sold their house or stock and whether they had to sell other investments at a loss. When it comes to my house, I rather just stick to the business of living in it instead of worrying about what it's worth.
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