NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall to USA Today: Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment

The following is a submitted Letter to the Editor by NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall addressing the highly debatable claim made last week by a USA Today guest columnist that homeownership is a lousy investment. This letter to the editor in support of homeownership was published in today’s print edition of USA Today:

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Most Americans Agree: Homeownership Is a Sound Investment
By Elizabeth Mendenhall, NAR president
Submitted to USA Today
2/20/2018

The Feb. 18 guest column, “Why your home is a lousy investment when you think it’s great,” has two glaring omissions in it that would otherwise show that homeownership is indeed a solid investment for millions of middle-class Americans.

Outside of referring to it as “tiny,” Mr. Fisher’s column all but disregards one important thing: rent. His argument that investing in the stock market in lieu of owning a home conveniently omits the fact that an individual has to live somewhere. If they don’t own, chances are very good that they are renting at the mercy of another individual or company – their landlord – who clearly already realized the advantages of real estate as a great investment.

Being a homeowner means building equity over time and comes with tax incentives and a fixed monthly mortgage payment that acts as a forced savings plan, whereas rents – as almost every renter could tell you today – continue to climb far above incomes.

Mr. Fisher uses home prices in San Mateo County, Calif., for his example of the expected return a homeowner could have seen over a 10-year period before selling. Nowhere is it mentioned what the cost of renting is in that area. According to RentCafe.com, the average rent of a 3-bedroom apartment is currently $4,157, up 8 percent in the past three years.

During this same timeframe, local homeowners have seen the value of their home rise around 15 percent. While an 8 percent rent hike may be “tiny” to a billionaire like Mr. Fisher, it is very likely a cause of angst for a renter, who would have also missed the nearly double bump in wealth gains if they owned instead.

The second exclusion in the article is the fact that most middle-class Americans aren’t heavily invested in the stock market. Mr. Fisher makes it seem as if people have the time and knowledge to direct all of their cash into equities, watch it magically grow and retire as multi-millionaires. In reality, as this year’s volatility proves as a cautious reminder, the stock market comes with its own risks.

Countless studies show that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement. Thirty years from now, a retiring homeowner could very well have their mortgage fully paid off with the convenience of options, including living without monthly housing expenses or deciding to sell and using the sizeable equity gains towards fully (or mostly) covering their next home purchase. A renter after 30 years would have nothing, and would be relying on the unpredictability of a landlord and the stock market.

According to the Federal Reserve, a typical homeowner currently has a net worth of $231,400 versus only $5,100 for a renter. Diversification, including homeownership and a long-term savings plan that may include stocks, is the key to financial success.

Mr. Fisher does get one thing right: owning a home is great, it brings satisfaction and creates memories. There is a reason why 83 percent of homeowners think homeownership is a good financial investment: it works.

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Story Ideas: Getting Pre-approved for a Mortgage

After finding a REALTOR®, being pre-approved for a mortgage is one of the most critical steps potential homebuyers should complete. This is essentially an assurance from a lender that the buyer is qualified to borrow up to a specific amount of money at a particular interest rate. It makes the buyer look more serious to sellers and, in a competitive market, can make a buyer stand out among a multitude of offers.

Buyers will need to collect at least two years of tax returns, several months of pay stubs and bank statements, as well documents that show any additional sources of income, like social security payments or alimony. Buyers should also check their credit report to make sure everything is accurate and take steps to correct any errors, as that could affect their interest rate or if they can even qualify for a mortgage.

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Story Springboard

Speak with someone in your community in the process of buying a home about his or her experience going through the pre-approval processes. Talk with lenders about what they wish buyers knew going into the process to be better prepared. Ask REALTORS® about what advice they give their clients about getting pre-approved.

You can view all of NAR’s Real Estate Story Ideas here or follow the RSS feed here.

Each month, NAR produces a few story ideas for the media, presenting timely topics accompanied with background information and facts related to the real estate market. These housing and real estate story ideas are designed to help media generate content for news stories, hopefully serving as a helpful resource to those in the media looking for stories or new angles.

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Hot Home Trend: Go Big With Your Tile

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Supersized tiles are making over more floors, and this may be welcome news to many homeowners. Large format tiles means less grout to clean. The large tile trend may be partially motivated out of function, not just aesthetics.

More homeowners are experimenting with larger tile sizes, whether with porcelain, ceramic, or vinyl flooring.

Tile squares may be about 12 inches or so in most standard kitchen floors. But now sizes up to 24 inches or more are catching on.

Besides the easier-to-clean aspects of this, the larger tile squares often can make a space look bigger. That’s because there are less grout lines breaking up a floor into boxy squares, which leads to the perceptions of elongated spaces. (Another tip from designers in elongating a space with your tile: Be sure to select a grout color that most closely matches the color of your tile. That will also help make your floors look more expansive.)

The larger tile formats are popping up in kitchen flooring and as in bathrooms surrounding the tub or shower. Designers say the larger formats offer a more modern, “clean lines” vibe to a room’s flooring.

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6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Didn’t Know You Were Forgetting

By Brentnie Daggett In all likelihood, your home is the biggest investment you’ll make in your life. To protect that investment, turn to regular maintenance tasks to ensure that your home will be running efficiently for years to come. Most folks are already aware of this. But if you feel like you’re mastering your home maintenance, you […]

The post 6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Didn’t Know You Were Forgetting appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

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50 years of Fair Housing Commemorated

NAR’s yearlong commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act is underway.  The legislation, which first passed in 1968, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status and national origin.

For decades, Realtors® have raised awareness and supported a free, open market that embraces fairness and equal opportunity for all buyers and sellers. In 2018, NAR will further examine community fair housing issues and advocate for changes to the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

NAR will join with partners and allies in the commemoration and focus on:

  • Acknowledging the organization’s past role in the fight for fair housing;
  • Understanding how we as a nation are constantly improving our commitment to fair housing; and
  • Embracing Realtors®’ role at the forefront of advancing fair housing, leading efforts to address community fair housing issues.

Learn more about NAR’s yearlong commemoration of the 50th Anniversary by clicking here.

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Brick Faux Wall Panels vs. Real Brick: Pros and Cons

By Brian Kampe Utilized by builders for its stability, permanence and natural beauty, brick has long been a defining architectural detail of historic properties. And when it comes to interiors, exposed brick walls can add texture, warmth and personality to any setting. Unfortunately, because it’s incredibly heavy and requires the specialized skills of a mason, […]

The post Brick Faux Wall Panels vs. Real Brick: Pros and Cons appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

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Styling Tips to ‘Wow’ Spring-Time Home Buyers

By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating

The new year and the upcoming spring season brings with it a fresh outlook and new beginnings. What will prospective home buyers be thinking about while searching for their new “happy place”? For sellers preparing their homes to sell this spring, that means engaging buyers by showcasing a warm, welcoming and cheerful property that others can easily envision living in. The following are our spring décor styling tips to help sellers prepare their property to stand out among the sea of new listings.

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Natural Elements Paired with Metallics

One of our favorite trends is plants of all shapes and sizes–succulents, trees or plants in baskets and colorful planters, and fresh or synthetic garden flowers in vases and wreaths. Since metallic accents continue to be on-trend, we love pairing the two together for an elegant touch to appeal to today’s buyers who like to feel close to nature.

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Pops of Bright Accents

Pair bold pops of colorful accessories such as accent pillows, throws, artwork, glass bowls filled with fruit, and fluffy bathroom towels against a neutral backdrop to give any room a boost of energy and warmth. Mix and match different textures and patterns for added depth and a modern style.

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Update Paint Colors

Whether you repaint an entire room or an accent wall, a fresh coat of paint works wonders to instantly brighten and open a space to make it appear larger. To spruce up your curb appeal, try a fresh coat of a trending spring color such as Benjamin Moore’s Caliente for your front door to create a welcoming first impression.

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Fresh Bedding

To create a spring-like oasis in the bedroom, switch out winter bedding and replace it with fluffy duvets in white, or on-trend floral patterns paired with a soft, cozy throw and accent pillows in different sizes, colors, and textures.  To complete the look, add soothing nature-inspired wall art in complementary colors.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

PattiABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is principal, interior decorator, and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating. She has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full-service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for the luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company received the Houzz 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Awards for Customer Service.

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Instant Reaction: January Housing Starts

The following is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s reaction to this morning’s release from the U.S. Commerce Department on January new home construction:

“Terrific news on housing starts in January with a solid 10% gain. This rise in single-family housing construction will help tame home price growth, and the increase in multifamily units should continue to help slow rent growth. The large gain in housing starts in the West (10.7%) is especially welcomed, as that region has been facing acute housing shortages. Ultimately, there is still large room for improvement given the fact overall housing inventory is currently near historic lows.

This boost in housing supply not only helps the economy, but may also help the Federal Reserve temper the pace of future short-term rate hikes. That’s because the slow upward creep in the broad consumer price inflation is principally being driven by rising housing costs. Simply put, more housing supply means a lower inflation rate, and potentially a slower pace of interest rate increases by the Fed.”  

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Home Prices at All-Time High in 63 Percent of Metro Areas

We reported yesterday that single-family home prices rose in 92 percent of NAR’s measured markets during the final three months of 2017. Add the 5.3 percent price growth overall last year, and the cumulative price gain nationally since 2011 is an impressive 48 percent.

This multi-year streak in price appreciation has been a welcoming sign for homeowners throughout most of the country, and especially for those who were unfortunately in a negative equity situation following the Great Recession.

Click here for a list of all metro areas where home prices are now at their all-time high.

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