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Posted: 1:53 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Housing market has opportunities for renters, real estate investors

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By Clark Howard


I saw a USA Today headline that posed a question, "Home rentals—the new American Dream?"

The fact that we are going from a nation of homeowners to a nation of renters has been way overhyped. There has been shift and that's undeniable, but consider this: At the peak of the housing bubble, 67% of Americans were homeowners. Now that number is down to somewhere around 63%. So people are still overwhelmingly grabbing onto the American dream.

But what is clear as can be is that with the job market being in turmoil, for a lot of people renting is a better decision than buying. Yet for others, buying would still be a great idea in spite of fears about home values.

Let me lay out that distinction for you: Take a map of the U.S. and start at the Canadian border in North Dakota. Then come down through the heart of the country to Texas. A lot of those jurisdictions your finger ran over have very little unemployment and there are actually high-paying jobs that go unfilled. The heartland offers possibilities of finding work.

However, in other places, it's hard to find a job. Look at Nevada as just one example. It was a hot state, but right now is flat on its back with economic decline.

So if you are looking for a job opportunity, it pays to be a real estate free agent. That means if you don't have deep roots, you should probably go follow that opportunity. On the other hand, if you have strong roots in an area, coupled with a good, secure job that you love, and yet you're still afraid to buy because of everything that's gone on with real estate, you're missing a historic opportunity.

Right now, you have historic low mortgage rates coupled with depressed home values making this a great time to buy in. It's also an awesome time to buy if you want to own investment real estate. In fact, there's never been a better time in my lifetime to buy investment real estate, particularly for cash buyers. We have a shift going on in our culture and big money can be made for the long haul!

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