From the ‘psychological equivalent of gold’ to real estate reality


Remember spending your vacation time staring at listings in real estate storefronts, pondering a second or third home buy?

How about those lotteries that queued up 200 buyers for 20 new homes and site-unseen purchases by buyers thousands of miles away?

Home-for-sale websites were at the top of Web browsers’ bookmark lists and the names of hosts on house-and-home TV shows were household words.

Skyrocketing home values had transformed homeownership into the “psychological equivalent of gold.”

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

It wasn’t just Wall Street greed, predatory lending, Washington D.C.’s regulatory failures and industry spin that toppled the housing market.

The gilded dream

Americans lusted for housing like addicts hunched over fat rails of dope.

Withdrawal has been painful, but detoxification has brought us back to our senses.

(See: “From lust to bust”)

“And now that we’re picking up the pieces, we’re seeing a psychological shift. Instead of looking at homes through the eyes of an economist, we’re realizing that a home doesn’t solely equate to financial return or measure only to a mortgage amount. Instead, the home is the emotional center of our lives, and it remains a critical component of who we are,” says psychotherapist, Dr. Robi Ludwigwho partnered with Coldwell Banker to take a look at the American psyche’s penchant for real estate after the fall.

On behalf of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,100 U.S. adults aged 18 and older and learned the housing-led economic downturn has had a profound effect on the way people view homeownership.

Owning a home remains the centerpiece of the American Dream, but re-evaluated as a practical housing choice, rather than a get-rich-quick scheme.

Inception of a new dream

“There’s no doubt that housing has been in the eye of the economic storm,” said Jim Gillespie, chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

“However, our work with Dr. Ludwig underscores that Americans remain bullish on homeownership and have not forgotten the inherent, emotional reasons that make our homes precious to us – in tough times or not. People are simply and rightly being more mindful about what they need and what they can afford, and are more carefully considering when to become homeowners,” Gillespie said.

The survey found:

• A majority of U.S. adults (79 percent) indicate the recession has caused society to rethink the concept of homeownership.

• Even more, 84 percent of U.S. adults, agree more people took owning a home for granted before the recession, and 72 percent said they feel like Americans have a greater respect for it now than they did before the recession.

• Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults agree that due to changes in the housing market and/or economy there has been an overemphasis on the financial value of a home rather than the emotional value of a home.

• Ninety percent of U.S. adults agree that some people purchased more expensive homes than they should have before the recession.

• Meanwhile, 86 percent of Americans agreed that people are more closely evaluating how much home they can truly afford now, compared to before the recession.

“After any major fallout like a financial downturn, it’s natural to examine and sometimes alter the way we think about fundamental issues in our lives,” said Ludwig

“So it makes sense that this survey shows we are re-thinking what passed for conventional wisdom during the ‘boom years.’ Instead of taking things for granted, people are protective of their jobs, homes and futures,” she explained.

About the author

DeadlineNews.Com's Publisher, Executive Editor and Founder, Broderick Perkins, was the first real estate journalist to manage a daily newspaper's online real estate section. He parlayed more than 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service offering "News that really hits home!" -- the Silicon Valley bootstrap, DeadlineNews.Com. Network with Broderick Perkins on LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, Google+ and the Bloomberg Business Exchange.

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