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Homeowners: Not Just About Buying—It's Also About Investing

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AP

Not surprisingly, housing affordability is rising rapidly as home prices for new and existing homes continue their freefall. A new report from the National Association of Home Builders today finds, “the number of potential home buyers nationwide who can afford to buy new and existing homes has reached the highest level in more than four years.”

“56.1 percent of all new and existing homes that were sold were affordable to families earning the national median income of $61,500, far more than the 40.4 percent of families who could afford homes at the peak of the housing boom,” say the home builders.

But that got me wondering whether or not affordability really has anything to do with the housing recovery at this point. Sure, lower prices get buyers off the fence, as we’re seeing now in California, where dirt-cheap prices are bulking up home sales. That’s just all about getting a great deal. Still, for that 56.1 percent of Americans earning the median income, I just don’t think it’s all about whether they can afford the home or not. The question is really: Is this home a good investment? And the answer is as yet unclear.

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Even the home builders must know that, since they are making a huge push on Capitol Hill for a bailout…a government subsidized, severely low-interest rate mortgage product for the first six months of next year. Anyone who wants to buy a home gets the low fixed rate. If houses are so affordable, why do we need new loans at 3 percent? Because it’s going to take more than affordability to get buyers into this market. It’s almost if, as Crazy Eddie used to say, we have to be giving it all away.

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