For many Americans a house has become more than a home. It’s become a personal ATM, a source of easy money.
The latest housing sales numbers show the country is still in the grips of feverish real estate boom that’s driven the average price of a single family home up 50 percent. That means home equity loans and refinancing have become the new way to pay for vacations or college.
This frenzy has some economists warning that what goes up must come down. And if it does drop — it’s going to come down on top of a lot of people who are stretched far beyond their means. And since real estate helps the overall economy by giving consumers more money to spend…a market crash could hit home for all of us.
Susan Wachter, professor of financial management and real estate finance and city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania’ s Wharton School
Chris Mayer, Director of the Milsteain Center for Real Estate at Columbia Business School
Gabriela Kotliar, Boston-area home owner.