You might have had a science teacher who explained to the class why perpetual motion machines aren’t possible. He would have had some common sense to back up his point (everybody knows nothing lasts forever). But the actual scientific explanation had to do with physics and Newton’s Laws: in the end, perpetual motion just isn’t in the cards.
When it comes to real estate, however, for a lot of happy residents, their Bowling Green home equity comes awfully close to being a kind of perpetual income machine.
There may not be a Newton’s Law of Retirement Motion, but for anybody planning their long-term future security, there should be. It would be straightforward:
For every mortgage principal payment, there is an equal and opposite addition to your home equity.
This simple Law has a profound effect in the real world. The PEW Research Center tells us that the typical median family’s expenditure for housing = 23% of after-tax income. That figure is for households with two earners and two children. If retirement will mean a reduction in those two earners’ income (as is usually the case), unless they reduce the size or quality of their housing, the percentage of income it claims will have to rise further. Not a very desirable outcome.
But apparently the majority of Americans have already taken our fanciful Law of Retirement Motion into account. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, among American homeowners who are 65 and older, a whopping 65.3% have no mortgages payments to make. They own their residences free and clear. For them, the home equity effect is, as financial adviser Robert Christman describes, “…almost as if you had saved enough extra to provide a monthly income equal to your mortgage.” It’s like a Newton’s Law of Perpetual Income.
The practical effect of owning your Bowling Green home outright isn’t as fanciful as are the non-existent Newton’s Laws—it’s darned real! Which is one reason my job helping clients land the right home at the right price ends up being so satisfying.