The American Dream?

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For all the talk the bubbletalk about renting being a better housing choice than buying, for some segments of the population at least, renting is pretty rare.  I clipped this from Tom Kelly’s column this week which was reprinted in the Daily Journal of Commerce:

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the National Center for Health Statistics, the older population — persons 65 years of age and older — numbered 35 million in 2000. While the years since the last census have altered the numbers, it showed the over-65 group represented 12.4 percent of the population — about one in every eight Americans. The census data showed nearly 80 percent of the nation’s seniors own their own homes, and 73 percent are owned free and clear of any mortgages, amounting to nearly $1.9 trillion in home equity.

Wow.  8 out of 10 “seniors” (although a 65 year old is not quite “senior” anymore in my book) own their homes, and the vast majority of those — 73% — have paid them off — free and clear.  No worries about foreclosure there.

I think renting is clearly the preferred alternative for a certain group — those who are transient, moving soon, or otherwise unsure of their plans.  Probably that 21-35 demographic.  But for me, and I think for most of us (clearly for those 65 and up in America), I can’t imagine not having the stability that comes with owning the roof over my family’s head. 

We’ve had clients who have bought when we counseled them not to — due to being newly arrived in Seattle, unsure of their plans, not able to find a house on the market when they got here that suite them.  Those people who bought, only to sell a year or two later, lost money — even in a strong, appreciating market.  They should have waited.  But everyone else who bought and stayed put, they’re happy as clams — even if it might have made better FINANCIAL sense to rent.

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