How the Changing Housing Market Can Affect Retirees
It is hard to read the paper, or listen to the news, without hearing about the housing recession. According to an article in The New York Times, the median price of American homes is expected to fall for the first time since federal housing agencies began keeping statistics in 1950. The outlook for 2008 calls for a continuation of the negative trends which have taken place in housing for the past two years and which threatens to push us into a recession, which many economists believe we are already in.
Personally, I think people have it all wrong about the housing market. While it is true that many people made money on the housing market in the 1990Ãƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢s and even into this decade, this is not the reason most people purchase a home. A home is where we live, where we raise our kids, where we celebrate great occasions, where we discuss our hopes and dreams and where we spend most of our time. I donÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢t know about you, but when I purchase a stock or bond or make another investment these things give me very little pleasure. Yet when we purchase a house, this is one of the happiest times of our lives and we look forward to decorating and fixing it up and making it into a home!
During the last few decades home ownership has risen and more people are able to enjoy the American dream of owning our own home. This is a good thing and has brought joy to many lives. However, during this housing rush we also starting building larger and larger homes that frankly are expensive to furnish and maintain and use prodigious amounts of energy. I grew up in a home of less than 1200 square feet with four other family members. We were very happy in this home and I still carry many great memories from my time spent there. Now the two of us live in a home of over 2000 square feet and sometimes look a homes much larger than this with three or more bathrooms, huge closets and living rooms as large as a small bowling alley. Do we really need these things to be happy?
Perhaps, it is time to reevaluate the American Dream. LetÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢s measure our houses not on the square footage and number of bathrooms but on the ability to house and shelter us and allow us to live our lives fully. Our home is not an investment. Who really cares if you make thousands of dollars or ten dollars on your home, because this is not why we bought it in the first place. And letÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢s make homes that people can afford to buy without a sub-prime loan that are easy to maintain, use minimal energy and donÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢t require a kingÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢s ransom to furnish.
As retirees we too need to put our home ownership into perspective. Most of us do not have our families living with us and can manage in a smaller home. Location is perhaps even more important in home ownership during our retirement years as we balance where we want to live with our access to our families, good health care and ease of maintenance. But the same basic value of home ownership is still there as most of us want our own home to enjoy. So donÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢t get hung up about the value of your retirement home decreasing. It really doesnÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢t affect most of us in the short term and certainly doesnÃƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã¢â€ž¢t matter in the long term. The American Dream of home ownership is still valid.