We’re all pulling for the housing market to recover. Most of us want to live the American dream, and part of that dream is having a piece of land and a home of your own. As much as we’d like to be optimistic about the prospects of the housing market, it’s more important than ever to be realistic. Like it or not, the reality is that the housing market isn’t going to recover anytime soon.
If you’re considering buying a home because you want to live in it for 30 years, this market is perfect for you. Home prices are in the cellar and you can get a decent house much cheaper than you could have ten years ago. If you’re looking at a home as an investment, though, you’re going to have a long wait.
Here are ten reasons why the housing market won’t recover anytime soon:
- Tougher lending standards will continue to keep many out of the market. One of the main reasons the housing market crashed was because there were too many defaults on mortgages. Many of these defaults involved borrowers with poor credit. As a result, the banks are justifiably hesitant to lend to people with subprime credit. Unfortunately, this also means that a lot of homes which would otherwise be bought remain vacant.
- Most attempts to revive the housing industry have focused on band aid solutions. Both the Bush and Obama administrations pushed forward legislation that was designed to combat the housing market crash and keep homeowners in their homes. The problem is that none of these addressed (much less solved) the factors that caused the crash. Banks were made to continue dealing with people who weren’t paying their mortgages, losing money in the process. In most cases, this only prolonged the problem.
- When the market starts to recover, interest rates will rise. Right now, interest rates are at an all-time low. That’s great if you want to buy a house and live in it until you pay the mortgage off. If you’re planning to buy a home as an investment, though, you are counting on housing prices to go up. If interest rates go up, it limits how much people can spend on the homes they purchase and slows down the potential rise in housing prices.
- Lots of supply and little demand will keep prices low for a long time. Any time you have a large supply of something people aren’t buying, the prices are going to stay low. Right now, people just aren’t buying houses. As long as there are more homes on the market than people who want to buy homes, the value of housing can’t rise significantly.
- Foreclosures and short sales will continue to keep the price down. Right now, you can buy a home through foreclosure or short sale in just about any price range. Obviously, it’s a lot cheaper to buy homes this way. As long as this remains an option, anyone with any sense will buy these homes first. That’s great if you’re looking to buy a house on the cheap, but not so great if you’re hoping the value of your home will rebound.
- The housing market and the economy interact and cause a spiral effect. People can only buy what their income, savings, and credit allow them to. In a down economy, even those who can are less likely to make large purchases. The economy and the housing market tend to play off each other. Unfortunately, it takes longer for positive indicators in one to affect the other than negative indicators.
- Rising gas prices make once attractive locations undesirable. The American dream for many was once a home in the ‘burbs. With the price of gas in the stratosphere and climbing, no one wants a two hour commute. People are moving back to the city and renting apartments rather than buying homes in once popular areas. This drives the demand (and price) for housing down in areas that were once considered highly desirable.
- Programs designed to protect homeowners from predatory lending will continue to have unintended negative consequences on the housing market. Most reasonable people applaud efforts to keep homeowners in their homes. Unfortunately, these programs only tend to delay the inevitable. The entire process is extremely costly. The end results are that lending institutions become more cautious about who they will lend to and fewer people are eligible to buy homes.
- The decline in traditional 40 hour/30 year employment makes home ownership less desirable. Few people stay in one place or with one employer for their entire lives anymore. Today’s world demands that we be flexible and willing to move in order to get ahead. The more transient our lifestyles are, the less attractive a 30 year mortgage is, especially in an unstable or depressed housing market. As more people opt to rent, the value of housing will continue to decrease.
- Markets rise and fall on consumer confidence. Of all the reasons why the housing market won’t recover anytime soon, this is the most important. As long as the most recent housing market crash is fresh in people’s minds, they will view buying a house as a risky investment. Most people have an aversion to risk, especially when it involves as many zeroes as mortgages do. The housing market won’t recover until the housing market collapse is a distant memory.
Don’t expect to make money on housing anytime soon. The days of flipping houses for profit are over, and will be for a long time. On the other hand, if your credit is good enough and you want a home to live in for 20 or 30 years, you couldn’t pick a better time to buy one at a low price.
John Haller is the founder of Fidelity One Credit Corp, a socially responsible company offering auto secured credit cards , revolving lines of credit, and auto title loans. Fidelity One has been in the car title loans business since 1994 and is a Better Business Bureau registered company with the best rates nationwide.