Real estate ranks second as America’s favorite long term investment despite the three trillion dollars in equity homeowners lost during the housing depression, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com.
More than one in four Americans (26 percent) favor cash, edging out real estate (23 percent). One in six (16 percent) favor gold or other precious metals, even though those investments have been pummeled in 2013, while only 14 percent say stocks would be their choice. Just eight percent of Americans chose bonds. For money not needed for more than 10 years, 26 percent of Americans favor cash, 23 percent real estate, 16 percent gold/other precious metals, 14 percent stocks and 8 percent bonds.
“Americans not saving enough is well-documented, but hunkering down in cash investments and settling for low returns will only magnify the problem of not having a sufficient nest egg to meet longer-range financial goals such as retirement,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. “Other choices may not do the trick either, as real estate is not only very cash-intensive, but often illiquid. And precious metals spit out zero cash flows, with gains solely dependent on price appreciation.”
McBride said using a 401K or IRA to invest in residential real estate is not a good idea except for high end investors who are diversifying their portfolio. That real estate very illiquid and hard to access during an emergency and real estate investments are more cash-intensive that many investors realize.
A recent study by economists at the Atlanta Federal Reserve found that real estate was less profitable than securities as an investment. .
“We compute that 40 percent of homes owned for less than 13 years have negative average annual returns, compared to 12 percent of homes owned for 13 years or more. Interestingly, while a much greater portion of those owning for 13 or more years obtain positive returns, the average annual return was actually slightly higher for those owning fewer than 13 years (0.95 percent versus 1.03 percent),” said Ellyn Terry and Jessica Dill, two economists at the Atlanta Federal Reserve, in a working paper published June 12.
Bankrate.com estimates the average money-market deposit account yields just 0.11 percent, so a $10,000 initial investment would only gain $110.55 over a 10-year period. And the average five-year CD currently yields just 0.78 percent.