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Bill Joyce: (916) 206-7282

What is Surviving the American Dream?

Somewhere along the line the noble ambition of home ownership slipped into murky territory. What was once the cornerstone of a family's personal and financial well being has become a participant in a declining American standard of living. We are conditioned to have faith that owning our own homes is the path to happiness and prosperity. While that may have been the case a generation back, today's reality is most of us are working longer hours, have less disposable income and save far too little to fund our ever growing retirement years.

The sensationalized image of owning your 'Dream Home' is right at the center of the modern tradition of spending as much as we can borrow to buy the nicest home we can find. This has had the effect of driving home prices to the very edge of affordability... and drawing the attention of institutional investors who are very good at studying, and profiting from the very predictable behavior of the home buying (and borrowing) public.

I believe the happiness and long term satisfaction we get from a home has been grossly oversold over the years. Yes, beautiful homes are a pleasure to enjoy...but they come at a high cost.

Surviving The American Dream is my attempt to encourage a more cautious and modest approach to home buying. Forget the Dream Home and think 'Dream Life'. Family, health, community, finances, leisure, retirement, time. A house is a small component of the life well lived...but the decisions we make when buying a home permeate every aspect of our lives from that point forward... largely because of the under-appreciated financial obligation you are making and the unpredictability of the current housing market.

It’s Time for a More Meaningful Dream

It’s Time for a More Meaningful Dream

I am not sure how it got started, but the idea of a ‘Dream Home’ has come to mean the biggest most beautiful home you can afford. As it turns out, this isn’t the path to happiness. A ‘Dream Home’ should be the home most compatible with the life you dream of living. When I was a boy, I shared a room with my brother. Of course, our sister got her own room. It was a small home in a modest but pleasant neighborhood. It may not have been the most ideal arrangement but we did fine. I don’t remember ever feeling cheated. In time, my parents were able to move us into a bigger home. My best guess is that the new house was around 1600 square feet. Although that is small by today’s standards, it all[...]
How Did This Happen?

How Did This Happen?

How did the housing collapse happen? As thousands of underwater Sacramento homeowners continue to search for solutions to this seemingly unending problem, most have very little understanding of what really caused it to happened.  As you evaluate distasteful options that seem to range  from bad to worse, you will find a clear understanding of what happened to you is immensely helpful in making the difficult decisions.  If you are in this situation and know very little of the abuses in the mortgage markets, read on... this will be enlightening and may ease some of your internal dilemma in saving your financial future. I used to feel that borrowers had the legal and ethical responsibi[...]

Featured Articles

Happily Ever After: Finding the right home at the right price

Happily Ever After: Finding the right home at the right price

Once the idea to buy a home takes root and you have a budget (usually from a lender(which is a bad idea-more on this later)) most home shoppers generally begin the process of comparison shopping. Much as we would approach buying a car or a television, we start learning about what is available, the features and amenities we want and how much we can get for our money. Essentially, finding the very best house we can find for the money(more...)
You Can't Buy the Life You Dream Of

You Can't Buy the Life You Dream Of

I remember years ago watching a documentary on the last months of a terminally ill Warren Zevon. I knew his music and liked it well enough, but wouldn’t have considered myself a fan. Having recently lost my own mother to a slow, painful death by cancer (and equally toxic cures) it was essentially an early ‘reality TV’ show letting you see the life of a man facing his own mortality. Aside from a powerful reminder that we are all fortunate(more...)
Homebuyer Priorities: Focus on the Things You Can’t Change

Homebuyer Priorities: Focus on the Things You Can’t Change

As a home buyer, you will have many things on your list of wants and needs - big rooms, chef’s kitchen, big yard, and granite. Often, these things consume our minds when making choices for our home purchase. However, I am here to tell you to think bigger than that. When you are searching for a home, you will be making choices, trade offs and compromises. Be sure to be mindful of the bigger picture. One thing to be aware of(more...)
May 2016 Elk Grove Housing is Roughly 83% of 2005 Prices

May 2016 Elk Grove Housing is Roughly 83% of 2005 Prices

An April 2016 article by Hudson Sangree on the Sacramento Bee website  shows Sacramento Area median home prices are back to 2004 levels. According to housing research firm Corelogic Analyst Andrew LePage “We’re roughly back to where we were before the sharpest part of the run-up”. I'm not sure 2004 is particularly noteworthy as it falls as some point during the runup, but neither the beginning nor the end of a tumultuous market swing. But how far has the recovery come?(more...)
Making Our Homes a ‘Nest Egg’ Again

Making Our Homes a ‘Nest Egg’ Again

Research shows most people do not have enough money saved to retire comfortably or safely. In fact, the reality is Americans don't save enough for retirement. To get a better picture of what we’re dealing with, let’s look at some numbers: 40% of Americans age 55-64 have no money set aside for retirement Of those in that age that do have retirement accounts - the median balance is $120K according to the Federal Reserve Overall, the median retirement account balance for all working-age households in the U.S.(more...)
Real Estate Is Not Recovering...

Real Estate Is Not Recovering...

We have seen many years of financial destruction to millions of homeowners with wave after wave of foreclosures immediately followed by wave after wave of short sales - which was sadly a dramatic improvement. Now, we are hearing and seeing evidence that the housing market is recovering. Over the past couple of years, single-family home sales activity had skyrocketed and prices have risen dramatically. Millions of formerly underwater homeowners are back in the black with home equity once again. And for(more...)
A Quick Look At Affordibility

A Quick Look At Affordibility

There is a connection between personal income and housing prices.  If housing prices increase at a faster pace than income for any extended period of time, housing will become overpriced compared to the local markets’ ability to afford it and it will inevitably return to equilibrium.  This means price declines... at least relative to incomes.  Essentially, we can't expect our homes to appreciate faster than the local markets ability to afford it. The underlying premise is that we will spend the limit(more...)
Have Low Interest Rates Been Good For Real Estate?

Have Low Interest Rates Been Good For Real Estate?

The general belief is that the extremely low interest rates we've seen over the past 10 to 12 years or so have been good for the affordability of housing. While in the short-term this may be true, by driving down a monthly payment for a given price on a home, the longer-term effect has been driving prices higher and higher and potentially creating a disastrous long-term impact on the affordability of homes. Low interest rates and liberal lending standards have made(more...)
Home: An Appreciating Asset Filled With Depreciating Stuff

Home: An Appreciating Asset Filled With Depreciating Stuff

I believe I could make the argument that home ownership, in its current form, is making us poorer because of the depreciating consumer goods we choose to fill it with. While at its very heart, a home is a magnificent kernel of responsible living and financial well-being, over the years it has become something more…and certainly more destructive. We have come to believe it is obviously the wise financial choice for anyone in a position to buy a home to simply(more...)
Home Improvements Are Not Investments

Home Improvements Are Not Investments

We've deluded ourselves into believing that our homes are good places to spend our money as a continued investment. We relate to it much like tucking money away in a high yielding CD for long-term growth believing we have just made a meaningful contribution to our net worth. So a new kitchen, bath, pool, landscaping is like money in the bank; plus we get to enjoy it too! It sounds great – but there is a not-so-great side to home(more...)
Buying a home is not like buying a TV

Buying a home is not like buying a TV

You're a smart shopper.  You set a budget, make a list of the features you want and set out comparison shopping to get as much as you can for your money. I suppose that’s how all savvy consumers shop.  The difference is a home purchase is life changing.  You’re adding a near permanent financial component to your life plan and all subsequent decisions are subject to that influence. In fact, buying a home is more like having a baby than buying a TV. When(more...)
Want to build wealth?  Don't Move So Much.

Want to build wealth? Don't Move So Much.

It has become the American way of life… we want to upgrade everything in our lives. It has become a frantic cycle of wanting more, doing more and having more. We may think we are moving up or getting ahead, but often the drive for more is costing us elsewhere in our lives. Perhaps it’s time to slow down and re-evaluate our position before making life choices, like buying a new home and moving. Calm reflection will help you stick(more...)
Dream Home? It’s Time for a More Meaningful Dream

Dream Home? It’s Time for a More Meaningful Dream

I am not sure how it got started, but the idea of a ‘Dream Home’ has come to mean the biggest most beautiful home you can afford. As it turns out, this isn’t the path to happiness. A ‘Dream Home’ should be the home most compatible with the life you dream of living. When I was a boy, I shared a room with my brother. Of course, our sister got her own room. It was a small home in a modest(more...)
A New Threat to Housing- Good Intentions Are Not Enough

A New Threat to Housing- Good Intentions Are Not Enough

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and principal designer of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law is speaking up regarding the resistance to an upcoming provision of the law.  While the law intends to provide protection from the kind of system failures we have seen over the past decade, it seems to leave a little to much responsibility in the area of responsible lending and borrowing with the retail lender and the consumer.  A controversial provision that could begin in January of(more...)
The door remains open for financial scandal according to LA Times

The door remains open for financial scandal according to LA Times

While I believe that regulation and reform are required to protect us from fraud and abuse of large corporations, it seems that hard work, money and influence can slowly dismantle any regulations designed to prevent corporate bad behavior.   According to the LA Times, the power of the Volcker rule has slowly been diluted by the efforts of large financial institutions determined to keep the options to profit wide open...despite the risks to the rest of us. Although, I think we(more...)
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By Bill Joyce, Broker (916) 500-2492 Bill Joyce on Google+
Video explanation of issues and options affecting troubled homeowners. From how to start a loan modification to interviews with legal and tax experts. Candid advice and straight talk to help you solve the problems you face.


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