A Lesson on Housing from the 80’s

May 5, 2023

Doing nothing may be a lot more costly than doing something.  With rates twice what they were in 2021 and the first half of 2022, many buyers are sitting on the sideline.  For some, it has to do with not being able to afford the home they want at today’s mortgage rates and for others, it is not willing to accept that the low rates that were available are not only gone, but may never be available again.

In the late 70’s, rates were around 10% and in the early 80’s went up to 18%.  Interestingly, many buyers went ahead and purchased at those record level highs and refinanced a few years later when rates came down.  By the end of the decade, prices had continued to increase so that buyers had a significant equity in their home.

Tenants who waited for the rates to go down didn’t see savings because the price of homes had gone up.  More importantly, they missed the opportunity to build equity in their home through amortization and appreciation.

If you purchased a $400,000 home today on an FHA loan at 6.3% for 30 years, your total payment with taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance premium would be about $3,459 a month.

That payment could save you a little bit if you were paying $3,500 for rent.  However, when you consider the monthly appreciation, assuming a 3% annual rate, and the monthly principal reduction due to amortization, the net cost of housing would be $2,229.  You would be paying $1,270 more each month to continue to rent which would amount to over $15,000 in one year alone. 

That loss would be about twice the amount of the down payment to get into the home.  Furthermore, in seven years, at the same 3% appreciation, your $7,500 investment in a down payment would grow to $138,000 in equity in seven years.  If the appreciation is greater than that, the equity would be much more.

You’re going to be paying rent to live in a home; you might as well benefit from the equity buildup from amortization and appreciation that is only available to the owner.

The benefit of acting now is that sales are down which are affecting prices, although not dramatically.  When the Fed gets a handle on inflation, and interest rates do moderate some, more buyers will be in the market and supply and demand will again cause prices to rise.  Then, you can refinance to a lower rate but your investment in the home will be at a lower basis.

To run your own numbers, use our Rent vs. Own.  If you have questions, call me and I’ll explain how to use it and what to expect for the home you’d like to have.

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