After overindulging on cheap money and inflated home prices, the U.S. is suffering from a housing hangover. When we woke up bleary-eyed and disoriented in February 2007, the rockin' three-year party was clearly over. Foreclosures were on the rise, subprime lenders were going bankrupt, and housing stocks were down.
Now, chewing on Advil and nursing that hangover, we're thinking only three things:
1. What the heck happened?
Like the proverbial frog coming to a slow boil, we missed the warning signs of the coming collapse. Well, not all of us. Savvy Fools were calling shenanigans on the lenders, the homebuilders, and the greedy homebuyers the whole way. We've compiled our most provocative housing articles of 2006 in case you missed them the first time around. Warning: They're not for the faint of heart!
2. When is it going to get better?
Many investors are running for the hills on housing-related stocks like Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL ) , Lennar (NYSE: LEN ) , NovaStar Financial (NYSE: NFI ) , Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) , and LoopNet (Nasdaq: LOOP ) . Other investors are searching for deep value. Are you thinking about taking the plunge in housing-related stocks? To help you decide, we've prepared these snapshots on the major players, where you'll find industry insights and outlooks.
- Homebuilder Snapshot: They're Down but Not Out
- Online Real Estate Snapshot: Building a Home in Cyberspace
3. We're never, ever doing that again!
I've heard this one before. I even said it myself after New Year's Eve 2003. However, it's easier said than done.
Information is key to avoiding a disaster, whether it's knowing your cocktail limit, or knowing how much you can afford to borrow. Financial literacy could prevent a future housing hangover. Mortgages and home equity loans are extremely powerful and useful financial tools -- as long as you understand what you are getting into. Overextend yourself and that dream house could end up with a big "foreclosed" sign on the front lawn.
Get started with these Foolish articles:
- How much home can I afford?
- How long should my mortgage be?
- Should I refinance?
- Is a home equity loan right for me?
- Should I use my retirement savings to buy a home?
- How can I make my home attractive to buyers?
While there are no easy answers in today's markets, The Motley Fool's Subprime Survival Guide will help you tackle these difficult issues. Good luck!
Our Home Center has more information and tools to help you finance your home.
LoopNet is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation, and Home Depot is an Inside Value pick.