Opinion

Hague: Will homeownership in American be for only the privileged?

Posted 1/16/22

“I will never sell another piece of real estate,” said my son, Corey. “I regret selling my condo before buying my current house,” he added.

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Opinion

Hague: Will homeownership in American be for only the privileged?

Posted

“I will never sell another piece of real estate,” said my son, Corey. “I regret selling my condo before buying my current house,” he added.

My nephew, Jason, echoed the same sentiment, lamenting the sale of his condo before he bought the home he lives in now. He wishes he’d rented that condo.

Same with my oldest son, Brian. He just bought a home in Fountain Hills and told me when he’s ready to move, he’ll rent his present home.

It’s the same story with my youngest son, Casey. He just closed on his first home. His plans for the future? Buy it, live in it, then rent it. Never sell.

Coincidentally, Teresa and I decided last year that if we ever want to move, we wouldn’t sell our current PV home, but rent it instead (long term, not Airbnb).

A shift in mentality

This new “never sell” mentality could be an omen, the beginning of a metamorphic change in the way Americans approach homeownership. I’m seeing a growing trend toward homeowners renting their current home when they decide to buy a new one.

Why the shift from selling to renting?

Interest rates are low, rental rates are high, and homes are appreciating quickly.

This means you can rent for more than your mortgage payments and make a monthly profit while your home rises in value.

Many investors already see homes as a better investment than stocks, with rent payments higher than dividends, and home appreciation better than stock price increases.

Why will homes continue to soar in value?

We have increasing demand from “normal” buyers and now investment buyers.

We’ve had a housing shortage, now further exacerbated by Covid-induced supply and labor shortages.

This housing shortage will worsen when homeowners (like my sons and nephew) decide never to sell.

It will worsen further as more homes are purchased by investors for long term rental. 

The bottom line is increasing buyer demand will continue to chase decreasing housing supply, which will keep home prices shooting up.

Subdivisions for rent

Six months ago I published an article entitled Rental Nation. I pointed out that one of four homes in America is currently being purchased by an investor to rent. It’s almost one in three in Phoenix.

But investors aren’t just buying homes, they’re buying entire new home subdivisions. For example, Fundrise purchased D.R. Horton’s 124 home subdivision in Conroe, Texas ... all for long term rental.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article with the headline Blackstone Bets $6 Billion on Buying and Renting Homes.

The article said, “Many analysts say that with home-price gains showing little sign of easing, rents can continue growing as would-be home buyers are priced out of the sales market and are compelled to keep renting. The business is attractive to investors because growth can come from both rising home prices and rent increases.”

Normal buyers struggle to compete

It’s becoming increasingly difficult (and sometimes impossible) for “normal” homebuyers to compete with corporations that make non-contingent cash offers at full market value, waive the appraisal, and then let sellers rent back while they find their next home.

I deal with this every day in my firm. We sell 25-30 homes a day here in Arizona, and month after month it seems like a higher percentage of those homes sell at top dollar to investors who plan to rent them for years.

The end of an American dream

We live in a country that has long encouraged homeownership.

The VA program was created in 1944 to help veterans buy a home after WWII with no down payment (even with low credit scores).

Longstanding tax legislation made interest on home loans deductible while rent payments were not, which is illogical considering rent payments and home loan payments are personal (not business) expenses.

The VA Loan Program, tax deductible home loan payments, first time homebuyer credits, and a variety of other incentives have been designed to encourage home ownership.

Are we on the precipice of becoming a nation of investors and renters? Are we experiencing the end of an American dream?

Will we become a nation of homeownership for the privileged?

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