I’ll confess that I get frustrated at times with the way media cover financial news. I wouldn’t mind if it were just a matter of sensationalism, but it’s not always that simple. At times, media show such a lack of perspective that stories convey the exact opposite of what is really the case.
Take this headline from a recent Wall Street Journal:
Home-Price Growth Slows Sharply, Case-Shiller saysIndex Says Year-Over-Year Growth rate is Lowest Since February 2013
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? And I’ll say at the outset that the facts in the story are basically correct. But let’s look more closely. Just what does it mean to “slow sharply,” anyway? It sounds almost like home prices are crashing and burning. But right there in the second sentence, it tells us that the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major cities shows home prices rising 9.3%. That doesn’t exactly sound like a “batten-down-the-hatches” storm to me.
If our homes appreciated by 9.3% every year, we’d all be in high cotton. So why the hysteria? Because economists had been expecting prices to rise by 9.9%, which would still be down from 10.8% the previous year.
In truth, even a growth rate of 9.3% is probably unsustainable. After all the pain we’ve been through in recent years, the last thing we need is an overheated market. Rather, what we need is a good, healthy market for real estate owners – whether homeowners or investors – to prosper. And I’m seeing a lot of signs that we have just such a healthy market. Despite some bumps coinciding with international turmoil and the default of Argentina on its debt, the stock markets have continued their long term bull market.
It’s also good to note that people are paying their bills. The S&P/Experian Second Mortgage Default Index shows that the default rate on second mortgages is holding steady at a low 0.57 percent, having remained well under 1 percent for more than two years. When you consider that 4.35 percent were defaulting on their mortgages five years ago, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape by comparison.
This, of course, is important because when we’re investing in rental properties, we naturally want to make sure people can pay the rent – or qualify for mortgages on properties we’re selling.
This translates into a good environment for us, because the current environment is positive for both sellers and buyers. And in a John Dixon & Associates auction, you don’t have to worry about whether you’re getting a fair price. The competitive nature of the auction takes care of that!