In our modern, global and egalitarian society, home ownership is accepted as the main way families build wealth.
It is also one of the main metrics by which to measure the “health” of an economy.
Because so much economic activity (and inactivity, if you ask the Supreme Court) depends on personal attitudes and sentiments, it is useful to examine the opinions of home owners and aspiring homeowners. The Genworth International Mortgage Trends Report for 2011 shows some interesting behaviors in the countries they surveyed: Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, USA, India, Mexico, Italy.
The report revealed:
- Two in three American respondents believe it is a good time to buy a home
- The average age of first time homebuyers in the US has increased since the 1970s (27.3) to the 00s (31.6).
- In the United States, 40% of respondents use half or more of their income servicing debt.
- 28% of American respondents overpay their mortgage.
- Canadian respondents are generally more comfortable with mortgage debt
- The more impoverished countries (Mexico and India) had respondents that had lower debt to income ratios and less tolerance for borrowing more than eighty percent of a home's value.
If you read the news lately it would seem like the US housing market is on the rebound, with new housing starts flirting with levels not seen in a few years, which shows how we have progressed since the 2011 international mortgage trends report was researched.
Mortgage rates are low and prices are generally low in the US.
Where I live, the market has been flat for the last three years, but that's much better than a down market,. We are fortunate to have equity in our home, but I feel bad for those who are underwater.
Across the board buyers are starting to stir and take advantage of the lowered cost of home ownership. For a while much of the activity was wealthy people or investors buying second and third properties, becoming wealthier while the majority tried to scrape their jaws off their 401k statements.
That is the point we strive to reach when we practice the art of personal finance.
When the market is down, the person who is debt free is capitalizing, buying assets, taking advantage of lower share prices. Down markets represent opportunities instead of worries. Housing crashes become clearance sales.
Decisions start to come without emotion, based on research and planning instead of stumbling and reacting.
Success comes from learning the wants, needs and beliefs of the majority of people. This will bring rewards even when the business cycle does its little shimmy.