Home Truth

By Bill Maher

I think that Piketty fellow is on to something. Not long ago, hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein, of Jana Partners, bought the most expensive home in U.S. history: a $147 million mansion in the Hamptons. Mazel tov, Barry. Because I’m sure what you do is 6000 times more worthwhile to society as what teachers do, and you should be compensated accordingly. Your income level makes total sense and isn’t an indicator of how far things have gotten out of whack. At all.

Of course, Barry’s an outlier. But here are some stats that aren’t:

During the first three months of 2014, 43 percent of all of the home sales in America were bought with cash. That's up from 19 percent from the previous year. And these aren’t just rich Americans; the all-cash deals in Boston, New York, Miami and California are often made by foreign buyers. In Irvine, California, 80 percent of sales over the past year were to Chinese buyers. It goes to show that in certain high-end urban markets, the real estate frenzy is back.

On the other end of the economic spectrum, the housing market is ho-hum. People are having a tougher time qualifying for home loan. They don’t have enough saved for all-cash offers, or even close to that amount. They’re still opting to rent, live with roommates, or stay at home with their parents. Analysts keep looking at the lower end housing market and coming to the same conclusion: It’s stuck because those workers don’t have enough money to buy things.

Once again, there’s an America for the wealthy – the types who can dump over a million in cash for a new home – and then there’s the rest of America.

The good news is that it seems like we solved our housing boom problem! Because for the wealthy, the housing market is back to being bubblicious. We’re gonna party like it’s 2005. But that’s OK. The mistake we made in the 2000s was thinking that regular people could also afford to buy a home.

How silly we were!