Happy Birthday America! We are so proudly grateful to be Americans today, and so fortunate we live in a country that lets us say pretty much what we want, build (generally) what we want, and encourages home ownership. Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers gave their youth and in some cases, their lives, to fight to keep the American standard of liberty free. In my case, one set of ancestors can be traced back to World War I and II and probably even further back to other wars. But my mother’s set fought instead to leave their native country behind and immerse their children in a brand new land free from the persecution they endured at the hands of Communism. My maternal grandmother kissed her mother goodbye and was sent to the U.S. to live with her older brothers when she was 12 years old. She never saw her mother again. Her pride was the home she bought, birthed and raised her family in, and kept intact during the Great Depression by selling moonshine, I was told. She lived in that home until a few weeks before her death. For awhile, the family ran a grocery general store on the first floor. When my uncles returned from World War II, she had created an apartment for each one of them that she later turned into rentals. In this way, her home became her piggy bank and she refused to leave it until she had no physical choice. She bought her home with cash before mortgages existed, before FHA loans, before PMI.
That piece of dirt was my grandmother and grandfather’s rock of Gibraltar.
A recent essay by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the 1.1 million strong National Association of REALTORS, in Forbes, outlines a concern I have that people in America today are not partaking of home ownership as previous generations have. We hear from pundits that the younger generation prefers sharing over owning, from apartments to cars to clothing. Hogwash: maybe they like Uber, but they cannot afford homes because of college debt they were lured into by banks. And now those same banks, the ones we bailed out during the Great Recession, are demanding higher lending thresholds.
Yun argues that Americans are doing well overall, fabulously well, the “net worth of everyone combined reached $88 trillion as of the first quarter of this year, which has essentially doubled since the turn of the new century in 2000. In 1980 the total net worth was $10 trillion. Some of the increases are due to inflation and from a growing population. Still, the increase over the years has been quite stellar.”
But guess who is not partaking in that celebration? Young people under age 35… some Millennials, some Generation Z, some whatever you call them: (more…)