This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 22, 2000

Rent, Invest, Relax

313 days until January 1, 2001

People who can afford to buy homes are renting instead. While they're not building real estate equity, they don't care. Those concerned about real wealth-building, even on a conservative level, can do much better in the stock market than in real estate in many areas. From a financial perspective today, renting makes much more sense to these folks.

They have more reasons for renting instead of buying their homes. Looking at lifestyles today and tomorrow, it's easy to understand their decisions. People want a more flexible lifestyle, with more freedom of movement and more freedom of time management. As workers change jobs, not having a house to unload is a major issue. The freedom from property and a mortgage opens more options for career design and taking advantage of emerging opportunities.

As people look for better ways to manage their time-personal time, family time, and learning time, convenience is paramount. We have already seen evidence of this trend in the growth of corporate and neighborhood concierge services, internet grocery shopping, and similar expediencies. The time and resources required for home maintenance can be a real nuisance, a drag on the lifestyle desired by an increasing number of people. If living arrangements include someone else (the landlord) taking care of all these bothersome details-lawn maintenance, plumbing, painting, even cleaning, residents have more personal freedom.

A recent survey by Fannie Mae, the home mortgage organization, revealed that 28 percent of the renters in the United States rent by choice, not because they can not yet afford to buy their own homes. That's the highest percentage indicating that they prefer to rent since the survey was first conducted seven years ago. In a social environment where home ownership used to be a goal, a desired status, 40 percent of those surveyed said buying a house was not a priority at all or wasn't a very high priority.

As this trend continues, watch for more traditional purchases to be rented instead.

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