Home Ownership in Marin - A Dying Dream?

by Christopher 11. October 2010 04:24

I recently read an article in a September issue of Time magazine about America's dying dream, home ownership. But does this hold true in Marin? 

I forwarded the article to my younger brother who, after becoming a San Rafael fire fighter is really amped on the idea of owning his own home.   Who can blame him? Owning a home has been ingrained in us since we were kids. It is an opportunity to invest in your future and the future of your family all while providing a sanctuary for you grow memories around birthdays, holidays and family get togethers. It is an opportunity to increase the equity in your "nest egg" so you can retire and grow old without worry of having a place to live or finances.  Additionally, American home ownership comes with billions of dollars of tax credits every year you simply can't get with a rental in Marin.

Then there's the emotional reward.  When you buy a house you also get a degree of independence - no longer do you have to get permission to re-paint a room, plant a garden, knock out a wall etc. Thriving neighborhoods are symbolic of a thriving job market and stable households and good schools- who wouldn't want to be in that club?

At least that was what we were taught. The reality these days appears much more grim.

The fact is, home ownership/ the home lending industry has placed a multi trillion dollar burden on US citizens and the foreclosure rate is sky rocketing. People got into the housing market with great hopes of building their future only to find out that they were spending too much of their income to own a house that is losing value everyday. People are walking away from their houses at an alarming rate, creating a vicious cycle of short sales, challenging purchase processes (short sales can take as long as 6 months to a year to complete) and epic price devaluation in neighborhoods across the nation.

Have I re-thought owning a house?

Yes, but not in ways you may think. I still want to buy a house with my wife, but will do it in way which is financially responsible for us. My take is that irresponsible credit lending practices combined with that "American dream" desire to own a home no matter what got us into this mess. It was far too easy for people to get their hands on money that they, for all intents and purposes, couldn't afford.

My strategy will employ the grit and patience that my grandparents had and focus on where we want to live,  buy what we can afford, support the neighborhood we live in and plan on staying a while.  I'm advising my brother to do the same - I'll keep you posted what he decides to do.  For now, it's Marin rentals for the both of us!

My team and I specialize in the Marin rental market and are happy to assist anytime:  www.foundationrentalgroup.com

Christopher Barrow

Broker, Foundation Rentals and Relocation

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