A recent article in Fortune Magazine has proclaimed The Return of Real Estate: “Forget stocks. Don’t bet on gold. After four years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing,” writes Fortune Magazine senior editor Shawn Tully. Here’s why:
Inventory is shrinking in many markets, as homebuilders built far fewer homes during the recession. And, now that troubled properties are finally being bought up, this has reduced available inventory of homes. According to the article, in 41 cities, “a total of 78,000 houses are now either vacant and for sale, or under construction. That’s less than one-fourth of the 343,000 units in those two categories” than at the peak in 2006.
In areas that suffered with fewer distressed properties, “the existing home inventory is lower, closer to seven months on average. So a modest increase in demand will translate into strong gains in both prices and new construction.”
And even in those markets with more distressed or foreclosure properties, “those properties are finding plenty of renters, since the rental market is still extremely strong across the country.” As such, the supply of renters has increased dramatically, causing considerable increases in rental rates, while price declines have been such that it is now actually more expensive to rent than to own for most people.
“Let’s state it simply and forcibly: Housing is back.”
In an earlier interview with Fortune, Economist Karl Case of the widely followed S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index said “The lack of new home building is a huge help that a lot of people are ignoring….housing is looking like the little engine that could.”
Finally, the article concludes with this warning for the savvy investor: “This recovery will look like all the others: It will bring a severe shortage of housing.”