The Housing Market is Going to Punish You


Gallup just conducted a recent poll on what Americans think is the best place for long-term investments. The results are unsurprising: the housing market.

I don’t have to tell you that most people are always wrong about such things. In fact, there is nothing better to bank on than going contrary to popular opinion.

Fifteen years ago, I would’ve bet that poll showed stocks as number one. Now the housing market is the number one go-to spot for long-term investments.

And that’s a big mistake.

The common logic works like this: They aren’t making any more land… so prices in the housing market can only go up!

But here’s why that logic is flawed…


It doesn’t adjust for technology and the means to build more houses on the same land.

And, more importantly, it doesn’t adjust for slowing and even contracting demographic trends in most of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Most people think the next great housing market boom is just around the cornrner. This would seem logical, because house prices have gone up for most of our lifetimes.

Two major demographic trends have caused this illusion:

  1. The Bob Hope generation returnrned from World War II as the first middle-class generation in history able to afford homes and mortgages with GI benefits to accelerate house-buying.
  2. The massive baby boom generation followed and put unprecedented demand pressures against limited supply (especially in coastal areas). This resulted in house prices ballooning into the greatest bubble in modernrn history.

To get the clear and simple long view, just look at this housing market chart from Robert Shiller, one of the few mainstream economists I respect and follow.

See larger image

This chart is brilliant, because Shiller painstakingly (with a lot of student slaves, I presume) adjusted house prices in the U.S. for both the size of the home and the quality of the features. He produced a great and realistic analysis!

It shows the only major bubble in the housing market in the last 120 years, from 2000 to 2005.

The insight from this chart is crystal clear: House prices do not appreciate with the economy or even long-term shortages of land (as there is always somewhere else to build). Instead, they appreciate with inflation or replacement costs.

Adjusted for inflation, house prices are relatively flat — which means you get a “zero” real returnrn.

Holy crap, Batman! You mean real estate is not an appreciating asset like stocks or bonds?

The common wisdom of people who think the housing market is the best long-term investment falls into the category of most people usually being wrong!

I have been preaching for over a decade about the housing market not having the prospects it used to. I warnrned in my newsletters in late 2005 that the U.S. real estate bubble was peaking (Shiller and I were the only ones to predict this), and it did, in sales and in prices in early 2006.

In Chapter 3 of my latest book, The Demographic Cliff, I show in greater depth why “the housing market will never be the same.”

When I account for real estate lasting forever — adjusting for dyers (at age 79) who sell versus peak buyers (ages 41 to 42) — “net demand” did peak in 2006, and after bouncing a bit into 2013, it declines again for decades off and on.

In Shiller’s housing market chart above, it would look like we are near the long-term “flat” trend again, adjusted for inflation. And we got closer in 2012.

But real estate does not ordinarily bubble as much as stocks or commodities. This has been the greatest, and most global, housing market bubble in modernrn history — thanks to unprecedented baby-boom demand pressures and ultra-low interest rates.

After such a bubble, house prices are likely to head toward the lower range of values in the global financial crisis I forecast ahead, as they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

My analysis of U.S. house prices strongly suggests that they could drop another 34% to 44% from the limp rally since 2012, to merely erasing the bubble gains from January of 2000 onward.

This is not the time to buy real estate, especially not in prime cities like London, New York, San Francisco, L.A., Miami, Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, and Melbournrne.

The high-end is much more vulnerable than the low-end, as appreciation has come back much more strongly. The most affluent are like Alice in Wonderland in the wake of massive central bank stimulus — which has kept their bubble going and, as a result, will peak later in their spending cycle.

The richest billionaires in the world think there is no better place to put money than in condos that are in major financial city centers, priced at $10,000 to $15,000 per square foot.

In the end, the smart money becomes the dumb money, because they have nowhere else to put their cash, except in the most expensive real estate in the world.

We’re just trying to save your ass and assets in the greatest bubble burst of our lifetimes just ahead. Harvest your gains in the housing market and stocks. And don’t bet on gold and silver to save you in a crisis.

Listen to us as we prepare you for the coming deflation shock, and follow the proven investment systems we provide from analysts like Adam O’ Dell, who will keep you on the right side of the gyrating volatility — both up and down, but more down ahead.

The truth is: You can’t afford to be in the markets or out of the markets… You need a system that does both.

Sideways and more downward volatility are predictable in the summer and winter seasons of our economy’s long-term cycle — especially in the winter season.

Put on your skis and let’s go down the tricky slopes together!


Follow me on Twitter @HarryDentjr

Harry Dent

Bestselling author and founder of Dent Research, an affiliate of Charles Street Research. Dent developed a radical new approach to forecasting the economy; one that revolved around demographics and innovation cycles.