Sunday, November 16, 2014

U.S. home ownership rate and me

For those of my readers expecting an entertainment post, stay tuned; I'll get to it eventually.*  Instead, I'm going to explain my part in the graph above, as I rode it both up and down, reinforcing the trends.  The story begins, like the graph, in 1995, when my ex-wife and I bought the house that later became the first house I owned by myself.  That's the year when home ownership in the U.S. started rising and more-or-less marked the beginning of the housing boom/bubble. 

I moved into the house in 1999 and got it in the divorce settlement in 2000.  I enjoyed living there, but eventually it became a burden as my work moved farther and farther away from me.  As I recounted most recently in a meta update on driving:
From 2000-2004, I regularly put 40,000 miles on my car. In 2005, I began driving 1000 miles a week when school was in session to three different colleges and a tutoring service. Then on the weekends, I'd judge marching bands or cover drum and bugle corps shows. From May 2005 to May 2006, I drove 48,000 miles. That was the year I put my house up for sale, stopped seeing my long-distance girlfriend, and eventually sold my house. In June, I moved to the middle of my jobs and cut my driving down to 700 miles a week. Then I changed one of my jobsites and cut it down to 500 miles a week. Then I got a full-time job and quit my part-time jobs and dropped to 300 miles a week. Finally, we moved and I now drive 70 miles a week. I'm so close to work I could ride a bike on a good day.
I included a more detailed account of the sale in The Archdruid and I talk real estate.
The news on the radio in June 2005 trumpeted record home sales and prices.  I took it as a sign of the market top I'd been looking for since 2001 and immediately drove to the nearest real estate office to my home in the Irish Hills of Michigan and listed my house for sale.  The house sold in April 2006 and closed in May 2006, just as the bottom was about to fall out.

That was not only good for me, but good for the deer.  That winter, the deer ate my shrubs up to the seven foot level. Good thing they were eight feet tall at the time. I vowed that if I were still in my house the next firearms deer season, I'd finally break down and buy a rifle and a deer hunting license.  I never got the chance.  Lucky deer.
The result was that I got out of the market just in time, as the graph shows that home ownership began its steady slide immediately afterwards, then rented from 2006 until now, eight years of riding the real estate market down by staying out of it.

I showed my hand to Greer later in the entry, when I wrote, "Now to see about buying property as it struggles off the bottom."  Well, that time has arrived.  We've made an offer on a house and it's been accepted.  Wish my wife and me luck as we both get on board, just in time for the housing market to go back up.  Yes, it's a business as usual decision and I know these are not business as usual times, but as I'm fond of saying, I can't be all DOOM all the time.

Finally, speaking of trends in real estate, my wife and I are part of another trend.

Yes, we're in one of the markets where home ownership is increasing.  I shouldn't be reassured by moving with the herd, but in in this case, I am.

*Along with entries about raising fuel taxes to maintain Michigan's roads and the U.S.-China climate deal, both of which are old business being revisited.

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