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The Housing Investment

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While this piece is perhaps a bit too condescending to middle-aged homeowners, it does get at a very real problem. The entire structure of the postwar housing market is extremely shaky. Not only the larger financial issues and housing bubbles creating by profiteering. There’s also a very deep generation divide that plays along two levels. First, the overwhelming debt loads of young people means that home buying is simply not a possibility for many. Were they earning enough on the job to make meaningful incursions into that debt, that might be one thing. Instead, they are offered unpaid internships and $9 an hour jobs that require a BA and 4 years of work experience. Second, many young people are uninterested in suburban living. They want diversity, walkability, public transportation, and nearby shops. The entire infrastructure of 20th century life does not provide them these things. But they are demanding it anyway and making decisions based upon these desires.

This hardly means the end of the suburbs. Continued growth in immigration could keep this system afloat. And obviously a large number of young people will indeed end up in the suburbs. But these changes, both economic and attitudinal, are real and will have impacts for decades. For older people, that means that it’s quite feasible that no one will buy their house, at least once the speculators realize that the dreamed of return to the market of the 2000s isn’t happening. Given the debt held by people entering retirement who may be relying on selling their house to stay afloat as they age, this could become a real crisis.

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