Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400). In a Forbes article the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts that in 2016 the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater. The graph below demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun’s prediction:
Put Your Housing Cost to Work For You
Simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings’. Every time you pay your mortgage you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord’s net worth. The latest National Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:
“Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn’t be overlooked.”
If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you by purchasing a home, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can guide you through the process.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR A 2015 IRA CONTRIBUTION
Don’t forget that you have until April 18, 2016 to contribute to your 2015 IRA. The contribution limit this year is:
- $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re age 50 or older), or
- Your taxable compensation for the year, if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.
The IRA contribution limit doesn’t apply to rollover contributions or qualified reservist payments. Click here to visit the IRS web site for details.
TWO REASONS WHY THE RECENT UPTICK IN HOUSE PRICES IS NOT A BUBBLE
The last time house prices went up considerably, they plummeted 30% from their peak in 2006. Are we gearing up for a similar decline in light of the recent uptick in house prices? Apparently not, according to a study recently conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (click here to view the full study). Here’s why:
1 – House prices are much more affordable compared to rents than they were during 2005-2006. In those days, it was actually more affordable to rent vs. buy in most markets. The red line in the chart illustrates how the price-to-rent ratio today is about 25% lower than it’s peak in 2006. This is partly because rents have gone up in recent years, which provides some “fundamental justification for the upward price movement” in house prices.
2 – Homebuyers today owe less on their mortgages as compared to their income than homebuyers during 2005-2006. In those days, the mortgage-debt-to-income ratio was much higher than normal, and that’s what fueled the bubble. The blue line in the chart reached an all-time high in 2007, and has been steadily declining ever since. Today, the growth in house prices is not being fueled by over-leverage. It’s being fueled by new household formation and lack of housing supply.
We have reported many times that the American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, with many basic similarities. Eric Belsky, the Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University expanded on the top 5 financial benefits of home ownership in his paper –The Dream Lives On: the Future of Home ownership in America. Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:
1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.
“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”
2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.
“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”
3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.
“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”
4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.
“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”
5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.
“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”
We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially. If you are considering a purchase this year, contact a local professional who can help evaluate your ability to do so.