Vol 7 No. 18 - January 24, 2007

Apply lessons of 'Rocky' to real estate

By Louise Bolger

sun staff writer

I did something on Christmas Day this year I’ve never done before — I went to the movies. It was a family event engineered by the younger generation successfully convincing the family elders there was plenty of time between Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner to catch a show. The movie chosen was "Rocky Balboa," hopefully the last in the seemingly unending series of "Rocky" movies. As usual, Rocky is the underdog who fights through the pain to stay in the game. It got me thinking.

The real estate game is currently down for the count; I figure we’re about midway in the countdown. When and if we get up from the mat is still to be determined.

But we can all learn a lesson from Rocky Balboa. There’s more in life than winning (Believe me, I’m not giving away the movie). It’s how you play the game and it’s making the right choices.

The real estate market has been very, very, very good to anyone who has held real estate during the past five years, and even if your net worth may be slightly down from this time last year, you’re probably worth a lot more than five years ago. In addition, interest rates are still incredibly low for the most part staying below six percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage.

Mortgage interest is still the best tax deduction most people will ever have, and for the tax year 2007, interest on private mortgage insurance will for the first time be deductible helping a good percentage of first time buyers get into the market.

If you’re a buyer, the opportunities are endless. Between high inventories, low interest rates and a good percentage of motivated sellers, your dream of a beach cottage could finally come true. Besides, how bad can things be if the stock market hasn’t been spooked by the downturn in the real estate market?

Even the weather cooperated this year with no hurricanes, and it appears that our legislators in Tallahassee are finally at least starting to work on the state’s insurance problems. Commencing last week, Florida lawmakers are having serious conversations in an effort to find a lasting solution to our insurance and reinsurance crisis.

Not to mention that the number of cars clogging Gulf Drive and Publix’s parking lot have increased substantially since the first of the year. Am I being a cockeyed optimist, or is all of this good news?

And let’s not forget the primary reason we own our own houses. It’s to provide a home to live in, not necessarily one to invest in. The American dream of home ownership has come full circle in the last three decades from a place in which to live peacefully and raise a family to a source of funding for college educations and retirement. Perhaps we need to get back to why this country has more individual homeowners than any where else in the world.

Let’s keep our priorities in order. Things really aren’t that bad. Take a tip from the ever cheerful champ and remember what’s important in life. As Rocky says, "The heart is the last thing to age."

Probably right after your air conditioner.

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