Here’s yet another gem from P-I columnist Bill Virgin: We’re all guilty of speculating in real estate
Greetings, fellow real-estate speculators. How ya’ feeling about your gamble on the real estate market these days?
Who, me? Not us, you protest. Our purchase of a home is meant to provide shelter for our families, not as an investment vehicle. If we do benefit financially from the tax breaks and an eventual gain on sale, so much the better, but that’s not our motivation in buying a home.
Ah, but indeed it is a major motivation, and those who claim to have no participation in real-estate speculation doth protest too much. We are all real-estate speculators to some degree. What we’re quibbling about is how much of a degree.
I think the easiest way to get someone to realize that their home purchase was more about financial speculation than they admit is to ask them how they would feel if tomorrow their home was worth just 25% less (which happened recently in California) than they paid, or heaven forbid, 50% less (which happened in Florida). I imagine that most people would be pretty upset. If it’s just “a place to live,” what’s the big deal? Oh wait, you bought into the “equity ladder” myth.
In a way, it’s difficult to blame people for stretching to buy homes in a speculative fever when every single media outlet has constantly pushed the “buy now or be priced out forever” message at every opportunity.
On the other hand, I’m a pretty old-fashioned kind of guy, in that I believe you are responsible for your own decisions. You bought a house that you could barely afford, using a risky loan, and now the interest rate has been jacked up and you can’t make payments? Well, it’s not like the terms of the loan were a mysterious secret, shrouded from the view of the hapless home buyer. And whose fault is it that you didn’t bother doing critical research, choosing instead to blindly accept the cliché that “real estate always goes up,” fed to you from people whose income depends on you buying what they’re selling?
Nobody’s but yours.
(Bill Virgin, Seattle P-I, 08.06.2007)