By now, we’ve all heard the line, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
It was uttered in 1980 during a presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, when the former questioned incumbent Carter’s America.
And more recently, Mitt Romney brought the line (and the strategy) back to the forefront in his campaign against president Barack Obama.
Obama fired back with an ad that addressed the question, and now just about every other article about the election mentions this “are you better off” business.
Pushing politics aside, but still focusing on Washington D.C., one thing seems to be clear.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Is on the Mend
Relax; I’m only talking about the physical structure. The White House is worth more today than it was four years ago, at least, if you ask Zillow.
Yes, the ubiquitous real estate listing company has a Zestimate for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, just like every other home in the United States, and it’s higher now than it was in 2008.
Of course, it’s not much higher. Back in October 2008, it was valued at a staggering $280.8 million. Today, its appraised value is $284.9 million, a paltry 1.5% increase.
Sure, it’s not record-breaking home price appreciation, but if you ask most homeowners if a 1.5% gain over the past four years would “work for them,” I’m sure a lot of them would reply, “yes.”
Interestingly, the famous home and landmark saw its value increase $13,465,628 in the past 30 days.
And if home prices in the Washington D.C. area keep rising at their current rate, the White House will be worth $288 million a year from now, another 1.1% increase.
It’ll still be far from the $299.9 million price tag seen at the height of the boom back in June 2006, but it’s clear home prices are marching back in the right direction.
For the record, the White House is a 132-room “mansion” that sits on 18 acres in northwest Washington D.C.
It was built in 1792, designed by Irish architect James Hoban, and features 16 bedrooms and 35 bathrooms spread across 55,000 square feet of living space.
Sounds a little bathroom-heavy to me, but it shouldn’t hurt the value. It also has central cooling and a fireplace!
The bad news is that the Rent Zestimate is $1,778,288 a month, so it’s not all that affordable, even if for just a short stay.
Americans Are Becoming More Bullish on Housing
The White House aside, it’s clear that Americans are starting to believe in housing again.
Most pundits already called a housing bottom this year, and are sticking by it.
Additionally, a new Reuters/FindLaw survey released today indicated that homeowner sentiment is steadily rising.
The survey noted that only 30% of Americans are less likely to buy a home because of the state of the economy, compared to 63% in 2010.
And thanks to the low mortgage rates and reduced home prices, 11% said they were more likely to buy a home, up from eight percent.
Sure, a lot of Americans are still unconvinced, but it seems more and more are getting off the fence and signaling their intentions to buy in the future.
During the first half of 2012, housing contributed 0.3% to real GDP growth of 1.7%, and is expected to add a similar gains in the second half of the year, according to the latest housing outlook from Freddie Mac.
It was a net “drag” on GDP from 2006-2010.
No matter who wins tomorrow, let’s just hope that housing continues to drive the economy out of the doldrums.
Read more: Should you buy a home now or wait?