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Neal Templin: Check your math — what's your house's value today?

Neal Templin, on

Published in Home and Consumer News

In 2006, at the peak of the national housing bubble, Dallas homes were only 4% higher on an inflation-adjusted basis than in 2000, according to Real Estate Decoded.

Real home prices slid after the crash but not as far as other areas. They have been on the march in recent years, and Dallas homes now sell 27% above their 2000 levels.

Of course, buying a home is a complex calculation, and home value appreciation is only part of it. The biggest value many homeowners get is imputed rent -- the money they would otherwise have to pay to rent an equivalent dwelling. Homeowners get this benefit regardless of whether their house price goes up or down.

"You lock in your monthly housing payment" by buying a house, Wake said.

In addition, most homeowners buy their homes with a mortgage. This financial leverage increases the gain of any upward price movement -- and the pain of any downward movement. And house prices have still risen in markets like Detroit and Cleveland; they just haven't gone up as much as inflation. What's more, because of falling interest costs, many homeowners were able to refinance their mortgages, slicing their monthly payments.

Finally, it makes a huge difference when a homeowner gets on the housing merry-go-around. If you bought a house in San Francisco in 2000, you're up 75% on an inflation-adjusted basis. If you bought it in early 2009, after the housing bubble burst, you're up even more.


That said, too many homeowners take a rosy view of their biggest investment. They forget the property taxes, the cost of maintaining their abodes, the money they'll pay in brokerage fees when they sell them, and the fact their home value should be rising, merely to keep up with inflation.

Indeed, a growing number of well-paid people who would have been homebuyers in an earlier era are renting instead today. Some can't afford homes in ultra-expensive areas like California's Bay Area. But others, after witnessing the housing bust, don't find home ownership a compelling proposition.

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