Housing is Unaffordable. Here Are Some Solutions and Warnings.
The housing market is virtually frozen. Airbnb hosts are experiencing longer periods of unoccupancy. More apartment buildings have been constructed. However, many sit empty because the owners are unwilling to lower their prices. Meanwhile, report after report comes out stating that housing is virtually unaffordable.
“The dynamics influencing the U.S. housing market appear to continuously work against everyday Americans, potentially to the point where they could start to have a significant impact on home prices,” said Rob Barber, CEO for ATTOM. “We clearly aren’t there yet, as the market keeps going up… But with basic homeownership now soaking up more than a third of average pay, the stage is set for some potential buyers to be priced out, which would reduce demand and the upward pressure on prices. We will see how this shakes out as the peak 2023 buying season winds down.”
High prices, and the need to charge high rents, puts homeowners, commercial real estate, homebuyers and renters all in an untenable position. If you are a homeowner who is in distress, then private coaching might be very helpful. (Email info@NataliePace.com for pricing and information.) At minimum, read the Real Estate section of The ABCs of Money, 5th edition. This blog offers solutions for anyone who finds themselves in a position of paying 30% or more of their income on housing. Drowning in basic needs means we cannot invest in our own future. When we put essentials like food and clothing on credit cards that is a disaster waiting to happen. The only solution is to make brave choices about the big-ticket bills as quickly as possible, in order to get ahead in a world that simply doesn’t add up at this time.
Here are the 4 Tips and 3 Warnings we’ll discuss in this blog.
Keep the Money in the Family
The 4 D’s
Are You Buying High?
Know Your Neighborhood
Do Your Own Math
And here’s more information on each point
Singles and one-bedrooms are far more expensive than two, three or four-bedroom lodging that you might split with a few friends. If a one bedroom (in a more affordable city) costs $1200 and a two bedroom costs $1400, the saving amounts to about $500 a month which is $6000 a year. Of course, in big cities rents are a lot more expensive than that. However, the savings of thinking bigger tend to be substantial there, as well.
If you are a homeowner who is spending 30% or more on your home costs, then is there a way to start earning some income? Can you put in an ADU* and have your aging parents stay there, with everyone contributing to the housing costs? (Why not have them pay you instead of making the landlord rich?) If your parents aren’t the right answer, could you provide lodging for a traveling nurse or Ph.D. student?
*additional dwelling unit
Keep the Money in the Family
We all think about family money when someone passes, and the will of the estate is being parceled out. However, how much more money would we have if we all thought about keeping the money in the family? (This is the way that very wealthy people think.) Yes, this could mean living with your parents as an adult. The Prince of Wales has inherited a lot of land and money. However, for most of his life, he lived in apartments in his Grandmother’s castles and estates. His salary as an air ambulance helicopter pilot wouldn’t have paid for all of his expenses.
I know one mother who is close to retirement, who gave her kids the big house and remodeled an ADU in the back for her mother-in-law unit. Family solutions are happening all across the United States. According to a Harris Poll for Bloomberg, about 45% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 now live with their parents. For many of them that is a savings of $10,000 or more annually that they would be giving to a landlord.
Another way of saving money on housing is to partner up. As a young single mother, I moved in with another single mother. I experienced savings of about 30% on rent, thousands of dollars on child care that I didn’t have to spend, and cut my food bill in half because we would switch off weeks that we cooked. There is a pretty funny Neil Simon play and vintage TV show, The Odd Couple, about two divorced dads who move in together to save money. What kind of community will serve you best?
The 4 D’s
While the housing market is currently frozen, the 4 D’s can be relied upon to dislodge the stalemate. What are the 4 D’s? Death, divorce, depression (recession) and disaster. Sadly, in today’s world, we can count on one of these tragedies occurring. Things become a grave hardship when two or more happen at the same time.
Currently, everyone is still hoping that the Federal Reserve Board will achieve a soft landing and start cutting interest rates. What is missing from that rationale is that the Feds don’t cut interest rates until economic conditions have become strident. Cutting interest rates is the medicine administered when unemployment skyrockets, equity prices plunge, foreclosures abound, and corporate bankruptcies escalate. While 0% interest rates have been the norm since the Great Recession, they encourage speculation and discourage savings, which has exacerbated the pickle we’re in today. Those homeowners who wanted to get rich quick or land a treasure trove as an Airbnb host are now hanging on for dear life.
Are You Buying High?
Are you tempted to buy now? Are you aware that you’re buying at an all-time high? Are you being seduced into that situation with the bait that you could buy something for less than you’re renting, or with the promise of capital gains or rental income? Did you know that that simple math is excluding a great deal of homeownership expenses and could add up to hard life lessons and expensive losses?
Buying high is rarely a good idea, and can destroy your financial life for a decade if home prices fall severely below your mortgage. The reason few people buy low is because they can’t. They have all their money tied up in investments that have lost too much value. There is no liquidity remaining. Matters are made worse because our FICO score plunges as well. In recessions, most people spend years of the recovery hoping and praying that they crawl back to even.
Know Your Neighborhood
It’s tempting to run off to the suburbs, or some smaller city where prices might be more affordable, particularly if we believe that we can work from home. However, have we factored in the extra expense and time of our commute? Do we really know what the benefits and challenges are of the neighborhood or city that we are moving into? Are there downsides that tourists are simply not aware of? Are these our people? Will you and your neighbors bicker or support one another. There are seven tips for considering where your ideal home should be in the Real Estate section of The ABCs of Money, 5th edition.
Do Your Own Math
The first time that we buy a house, we are often looking at the price, and then focusing on whatever numbers the real estate broker salesman provides us with. The fine print might include the closing fees and property taxes, but rarely spells out the actual cost of remodeling, the maintenance on the home, and many other expenses that renters rarely experience. While prices are currently at all-time highs is in the United States and many other developed world countries, the real estate broker/salesman will be steering our gaze towards the gains that have been made over the past decade, without warning that in recessions, prices plunge.
It is very important to know where the value of your home sits on the Buy Low, Sell High continuum over the past decade. That is far more important than how many gains have been made by sophisticated investors who purchased when the price was much lower.
New studies are showing that almost half of people under the age of 30 are living with their parents. While previously this would’ve come with a derisive comment about slackers, it is now being acknowledged as a way to keep the money in the family instead of making the landlord rich. Millennials who are ready to start a family might be sick of this situation and rightfully so. However, the solution is not going to be buying high and trying to ride through the downturn. Losing that much money, and being underwater on a large mortgage, can be very hard on a marriage and is definitely terrible for our FICO score. A little patience in planning to allow the frozen market to thaw could yield smooth sailing ahead.
You can learn about more solutions in the Thrive Budget and Real Estate sections of The ABCs of Money, 5th edition. There are lots of ways that we can save thousands of dollars annually with smarter big ticket choices. Few of us are shopaholics who eat avocado toast at restaurants every night (the budget solutions outlined by so many financial authors). Wisdom is the cure. Let’s stop making everybody else rich and keep the money in the family.
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Natalie Wynne Pace is an Advocate for SustainabilityFinancial Literacy & Women's Empowerment. Natalie is the bestselling author of The Power of 8 Billion: It's Up to Us and is the co-creator of the Earth Gratitude Project. She has been ranked as a No. 1 stock picker, above over 835 A-list pundits, by an independent tracking agency (TipsTraders). Her book The ABCs of Money remained at or near the #1 Investing Basics e-book on Amazon for over 3 years (in its vertical), with over 120,000 downloads and a mean 5-star ranking. The 5th edition of The ABCs of Money and the 2nd edition of Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is were released in 2021. Follow her on Instagram.
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Please note: Natalie Pace does not act or operate like a broker. She reports on financial news, and is one of the most trusted sources of financial literacy, education and forensic analysis in the world. Natalie Pace educates and informs individual investors to give investors a competitive edge in their personal decision-making. Any publicly traded companies or funds mentioned by Natalie Pace are not intended to be buy or sell recommendations.
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Natalie Pace is the co-creator of the Earth Gratitude Project and the author of The Power of 8 Billion: It's Up to Us, The ABCs of Money, The ABCs of Money for College, The Gratitude Game and Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is. She is a repeat guest & speaker on national news shows and stages. She has been ranked the No. 1 stock picker, above over 830 A-list pundits, by an independent tracking agency, and has been saving homes and nest eggs since 1999.