Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hey LA! ‘Take this house and shove it!’

CNNMoney.com staff writer Les Christie wrote in a story today about poll findings and the growing sentiment in high-cost housing markets that no amount of sunshine is worth struggling to reach a bar that continues to be moved higher and higher.

Non-homeowners in places like Los Angeles jump and strain every month to grab hold of something, but to no avail. Some people may read this and fluff off the concerns as misguided. They'd have us ignore low median incomes and quote the high level of homeownership in their overpriced communities. I wish I could get some of whatever they're taking to skew their vision like that because this is a reality that needs altering. Down here in real America, our incomes matter. Down here in LA, even those who earn twice the median income can't qualify for a 30-year fixed to buy the median-priced home.

And still, the city councils and the state legislatures do nothing. Why should they? Most voters and elected officials already are homeowners.

Here's an excerpt from the CNN story:
Many residents of high-priced housing markets around the country are cashing out and moving to more affordable areas.

In Massachusetts, a quarter of the people in the state said they would leave if they had the opportunity, according to a poll by MassINC, a non-profit public policy think tank. They would join some 170,000 Bay Staters who left for other parts of the United States between 2000 and 2004.

The No. 1 reason cited by those who want to leave: The high cost of living. And the No. 1 area needing major improvement: Housing affordability.

On the other side of America, Hawaii faces a similar mindset -- two out of every five residents say they have considered leaving the islands because of the cost of housing, according to a poll co-sponsored by the Hawaii Business Roundtable and Pacific Resource Partnership.

There are other places that have been affected.

California suffers a net loss of about 100,000 residents a year to other states, according to Economy.com. In recent years, many have cashed out their rapidly appreciated homes and moved to Arizona, Washington, and Oregon.

But now that prices have climbed in those states as well, the latest trend is that Californians are turning to the Midwest, where spacious houses are available for half of the cost of similar space in Los Angeles.

"It makes increasing sense if you can buy more house and still live in a good area," says Conrad Egan, president and CEO of the Center for Housing Policy, a non-profit group that seeks to make sense of the nation's housing policy.

— The Boy in the Big Housing Bubble