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It’s a lifestyle not an investment for 1st time buyers

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POSTED June 2, 2011 8:11 p.m.

Housing prices in Manteca are back to 1998 levels but the attitude of most first-time buyers is rooted in the 1950s.

The typical first-time buyer today is viewing a home purchase not as an investment but as a lifestyle according to several sales associates for new home builders as well as Realtors.

They tend to be in their mid- to late-20s or someone who is older but figured they’d never be able to afford to buy their own home. They aren’t making purchase decisions guided by possible return on equity over five or even 10 years. Instead they like the idea of a place they can call their own. It’s the same attitude that drove home ownership in the 1950s.

The idea of a home as an investment and not simply shelter started in the 1960s in high growth areas such as California. Actually the Golden State was the hot bed of such sentiment as at one point homes were turning over on the average of every four to five years. Even as late as the mid-1990s the attitude that a home was an investment wasn’t shared by some parts of the country such as the Midwest. Several transplants that moved to Manteca-Lathrop from the Midwest during that period had a hard time understanding how some of their new neighbors grumbled about how homes had only gained in value by a couple hundred of dollars over the previous several years. That promoted one such Midwest transplant to note in a story in the Bulletin’s real estate section that he was thrilled to essentially get the same price for the home that his family sold in the Midwest as what they paid for it 10 years prior.

Given the attitude of the last 35 years in California housing the idea that buyers aren’t being motivated to buy or not to buy based on potential equity gain is somewhat refreshing.

It is also helping to motivate non-investment buyers that the price of buying and renting pencils out virtually the same for the first time in Manteca for well over 40 years.

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