Homeownership has taken a beating over the past few years. With all of the foreclosures and the falling home prices, many people have questioned whether renting would be better. My feeling is that the industry (mortgage bankers, underwriters, the secondary market and yes, even some real estate agents) lost its way. Back in the late 1980's when I worked for Maryland's Housing Finance Agency and then later as a mortgage banker, the underwriting was strict and commonsense. Buyers had to have some savings, good credit, income and a rental history. It seems that greed and some fraud developed and then the basic underwriting guidelines went out the window. Buyers were given mortgages that they didn't deserve and a few short years later, they couldn't keep up with the payments. Which brings us to our current mess!
Yesterday's New York Times had a good article on how housing remains a strong investment. Now, there may not be a guarantee that your home's value will go up over the next three years; but the stock market doesn't guarantee strong and steady gains either. But over the long term, housing remains a solid savings vehicle.
Here's the link to the article: In Defense of Home Ownership