Fewer Owners, More Renters, What Does it Mean For Hampton Roads? Better Yet, What Does it Mean For You?

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In Hampton Roads the percentage of the total population that is renting is up by three tenths of one percent, according to the Virginia Pilot.  A lot of people prefer renting to owning.  At the same time, the market is changing and the amount of people that would actually get qualified to get a mortgage should decline as banks are not as live and let free as they were with lending that they were in the nineties.  

Does this mean that more apartment complexes will be built?  Will we see more high-rises in Hampton Roads?  I have seen more than a few new complexes go up in the six years that I have lived here.  For a smaller town it would be a considerable change in the landscape but here in Hampton Roads it is but a small blip on the radar.  But is it a sign of a continuing trend?

If people continue to eschew mortgages in favor of renting, what will the banks do with the existing stock of housing in Hampton Roads.  The region is far from filling up all of those houses, and if you want a house you should be able to find one even if it means you have to take on a foreclosure.  Will prices continue to fall?  What amount of the stock is closer to $100,000 than $300,000 these days?

I would like to own in Hampton Roads, and I am working on getting 1% of the amount of the loan.  I would rather go in with 20% so I can get a decent rate and be taken seriously, but who am I kidding.  I do not come by $20,000 to $60,000 easily.  The rate may be lousy, but it may be preferable to renting at this time in my life.  

Others would suggest that more renters, and more apartment complexes would be a sign of growth and the continuing urbanization of Hampton Roads.  After all look at how many complexes are in cities like Washington DC and New York.  But if people actually own their apartments in those cities, what percentage of the people in this region own their apartments?  Is it even an option for most people?  Would you want to own an apartment in this region, considering the poor materials that are often used for all but the newest construction?  Then again if you owned the place you could tear down the walls and start all over again, with the best materials that money could buy.

Now in Suffolk, according to the article, people are buying homes left and right.  Renting defeats the entire purpose of living in Suffolk.  Renters with little invested in the city abandoned Portsmouth, and so a larger number of people in that city own their housing.  Virginia Beach and Chesapeake continued to add more renters, but then again, that is where the new apartment complexes are being built.  Particularly in Chesapeake I can think of three brand new complexes that were non existent when I first moved down here.  People continue to flock to Virginia Beach and Chesapeake looking for greener pastures, to escape Norfolk and Portsmouth, but now those cities are becoming just as urban.  Norfolk continues to build military housing, so why would those people buy when they may or may not be here in a few years?

Renting is for the moment.  It is quick money, fast, and in a hurry.  It is “I do not really care about my money, I can easily get it and I’m not sure what I am going to do, I do not have a down payment, I do not have 20%, so I can drop three months rent and move into the place that is what I am going to do”.  No one tells renters with poor credit that they can save that $2,400 and use it to get into a loan, but again, buying is a process.  You may not have months to wait on a close, so you do what you have to do.  You may hate Hampton Roads, this might be a place you are just passing through.  So you drop a few thousand, so what?  

Housing is an investment.  You change your mind later and decide you do not want to live here.  But you can still receive extra income, or at least pay off your loan, by renting to someone else.  One thing to keep in mind as an owner is that someone will always want to be in Hampton Roads if not for the beach then for the military.  It is also a cheaper alternative to Northern Virginia, so people who can telecommute will do so.  It is always a possibility; regardless of what you think of the area, I would strongly suggest buying because it is a stronger position than being a renter in this town and being at the whims of the market.  The people who are renting here, that do not own anything, are not making any real money; someone has to come out and tell it how it is.  The people that are making the money in this area own real estate and are giving renters like you a place to lay your head.  They can then turn around and buy up commercial real estate and get into all sorts of opportunities.  Do not piss off a good opportunity because of your feelings about the place.  You can tear down your automobile and destroy it on these ill built roads and throw all types of money at the DMV (the real DMV, not DC, Maryland and Virginia) and blow your money on taxes and enrich the coffers of the City or you can make your money work for you.  It is your own personal choice to do so.  Virginia has no mercy for consumers that are content with trying to get by in life that are without a real plan that lack ambition.  If you aren’t in the military and enjoying a good wage from that job that requires that security clearance or working for the City you are wasting your time.  Plus it is good, common sense.  Investing allows you to live where you want in this country; you don’t have to obsess over whether or not the jobs are here or there.  I used to ask myself, where is this job, or where is that job, then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  If you want to make money in America you have to own something and you need to be in possession of something that can make you money.  You have to be in a position to give someone else a job.  The days of easy money are behind us and the wheat is being separated from the chaff.  Too many people do not know which side of that equation they are on, and they are in for a rude awakening.     

I guess I got carried away with myself.  But I like to read the message in between the lines and read what is truly being said.  This is an opportunity for someone.  But renting is a very, very, difficult thing to get away from.  You might get a check of $1,000, and need to pay $700 of it towards some bills so that you can raise your credit score.  No one will even talk to you if your score is less than 600.  If you can afford to do so swallow your pride, put off that shopping trip until another day and get down to business.  There is money here, but you have to get your credit together and get your affairs in order.  These jobs will give you enough money to stay above water and open up a few doors.  It is up to you to take advantage of those opportunities and take control over your finances.  


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