Portrait time.

EsméMax

Boy riding fast in the night.

Max riding his bike at night.

End of warm days.

Recently at Lifehacker there was a post entitled Why Renting Might Be Better Than Buying a Home, which linked to a pair of articles at the Millionaire Mommy Next Door blog discussing the merits of *not* being a homeowner. I made a comment that the author of the articles appreciated, so I thought I’d reproduce it here:
I feel qualified to comment on this since (a) I happen to work in real estate investment & development, (b) I am a homeowner, and (c) I have been a renter in the past many times over.

Speaking as someone who invests in real estate to make a living, let me say that a personal residence is about the only type of real estate that I would *not* consider an investment. It's a place to live, and it's an emotional transaction. As such, it is a bad investment.

A house is something you dump money *into*. A real estate (or any other) investment is something you pull money *out of*. Please note the direction of the cash flow.

Not only have I observed this to be true in my own life/career, but this advice has been affirmed by several other (much older than me) investment mentors, and I'm talking about people who know how to make money here, people with net worth containing 8 and more digits.

In the past several years, many people have been fortunate to see the value of their homes appreciate rapidly, especially those living on coasts. The lucky ones monetized this before the trend reversed. There are many people still left holding hot potatoes, as we are now all reading in the news.

Home equity should not be a major piece of your net worth. If it is, you should consider some 'portfolio re-balancing.'

Although I am a strong proponent of renting, I will admit that there is a significant emotional satisfaction from owning. And that's my point: Buy a house because you want to buy a house, not because you think it's better financially than renting.

I am currently a homeowner (of a house I can easily afford--this is important), but I have always been a strong proponent of rental housing. Renters are sometimes considered second-class citizens in this country, and that is a real shame. A lease, although different than fee ownership, is still a bona fide interest in real estate. I would go so far as to say that renters-by-choice in the U.S. should be applauded in 2007 for being significantly more intelligent than their home-owning counterparts.
I’m not really a sports fan (in fact some people might think of me as the inverse of a sports fan), but it would be hard not to get excited about Manny Ramírez and Jake Westbrook’s sparring match in the sixth inning of last night’s Indians-Red Sox game (I was lucky enough to have some good seats). It reminded me of the bullfights in The Sun Also Rises.