Reston Spring

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Reston Spring

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Today’s Dream House May Not Be Tomorrow’s, New York Times, April 28, 2013

Robert Shiller--Yale economics professor, one of America's foremost housing experts, and co-creator of the Case-Shiller Housing Index--has an excellent article in today's NYTimes about the future of housing in America.  He tracks the evolution of housing since the beginning of the last century and says this about where we are now:

AT the moment, walkable urban areas — pleasant places where people can stroll to work and to restaurants — are becoming more popular. Last year, a Brookings Institution study of the Washington area by Christopher B. Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo concluded that such neighborhoods, where creative people cluster, show the highest property values. Far-flung suburbs are losing value relative to cities and close-in suburbs that offer such walkable areas. And these denser places seem to fit in better with more environmentally conscious values, too.
Attitudes toward renting have also been changing. A MacArthur Foundation survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates in February and March, asked Americans if they thought that, “given our nation’s current situation,” buying a home had become more or less appealing. Fifty-seven percent said it had become less so, with only 27 percent saying it had become more appealing. When asked if they agreed with the statement, “For the most part, renters can be just as successful as owners at achieving the American dream,” some 61 percent agreed; 28 percent did not.
Perhaps that trend will continue. Renting, which connotes mobility, might come to be identified with a high-status lifestyle in the new economy. If renting does become more important, owners of existing housing will be affected unevenly. . . .
He concludes this way:
If you want to settle down for a quiet life and watch your children grow up in a nice neighborhood, you might well act now to lock in an ultralow mortgage rate. Then again, if you’re restless, ambitious and determined to be mobile, it might be sensible to rent rather than own. Calculating the best economic return may not even be possible, given the uncertain investment potential.
Instead, it may be wisest to choose the housing that best meets your personal needs, among the choices you can afford.
 Click here for the rest of this thoughtful article.  

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