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Betting on This Recovery; Flash After Crash

Aired April 13, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: The market is soaring, home prices are rebounding, but do you feel any richer?

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

This could be the year to get that raise, make your move in the housing market and get the right education. But where do you start?


ROMANS (voice-over): Your job, your home, your investments, and your education, your financial future is at stake and you can't afford to gamble. Because where you end up is not a game of chance.

Your home, sales and construction are heating up but is this spring fever for real? Your investments, another week, another record, so what should you do now your money?

Your jobs, despite a hiring slowdown in March, right now could be the best time for to you reach for that raise or promotion.

Your degree, you or someone you know is picking a school this month but if your major is "X" and the job market needs "Y" you could end up drowning in debt with a big zero.

Before you cash in your chips you want to make the right decision. In this economy, the only way to get rich is to get smart, because "Smart is the New Rich".


ROMANS: So how can you get ahead as the economy improves?

Clark Howard is HLN's money expert.

Terry Savidge is a nationally syndicated financial columnist and the author of "The Savage Truth on Money."

Clark, let me start with you.


ROMANS: The Dow, the S&P 500 shattering records. If you're riding this bull run, you want to know if it's time to sell. If you're not in the market you want to know if it's too late to get in. So, let's start simple. When do you sell this market?

HOWARD: When you need the money, truthfully, because I'm the turtle, and what I do is every month I put in a set amount of money into a variety of investments. I've been in thick and thin, going back -- you think about the crash in 2000, when we hit the low point four years ago. I stayed in. I ignored all the hype. I ignored all the fear of four years ago.

If you stay in the game, you don't try to guess when to get in, when to get out. Things may be a little overvalued right now because of the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates down and people looking for a place to put money, but still, you got to think about your time horizon.

I got a long time before I need the money. I'm in the game and I'm staying in.

ROMANS: Terry, he's in the game, he's staying in. And, you know, we've come into this crazy time when we're almost becoming immune frankly to stock market records, again and again they're shattering these records but that can't last forever.

What should people be doing right now their investments?

TERRY SAVAGE, FINANCIAL COLUMNIST, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, Clark and I preach from the same hymnal here. We believe and know for a fact nobody ever got rich betting against America. There's never been a 20- year period where you've lost money in a diversified stock portfolio with dividends reinvested, according to the historians.

So I don't think it's our job to figure out when to sell. I believe in continuing to invest on a regular basis. Now, why is the market going so high when so many people don't have jobs and the economy isn't really growing? The reason this time is all the money the Fed's been putting into the economy and it's got to go somewhere.

So the first and easiest place was the stock market that may move the market ahead, quote, "too much" but on the other hand those are very real profits. It's starting to be felt in the housing market and that's what's pushing home prices up.

ROMANS: You know, it's so interesting -- both of you have mentioned the Fed and how, Clark you used the word manipulating, keeping interest rates artificially low. And I'll you, there's a phrase on Wall Street, don't fight the Fed. And the Fed, Clark, the Fed itself has told us that they're going to keep rates low as long as they need to, until the job market improves.

So that would suggest to me you've got a stock market where the path to least resistance is higher.

HOWARD: As long as corporate earnings are strong, to this point, corporate earnings have continued to be very healthy, and barring a severe U-turn really in the economy, there really is a clear path to corporate America continuing to report good earnings, and in turn, that would support the stock prices.

ROMANS: Yes. Good earnings, they got a lot of money in the bank, they're not necessarily hiring people with all that money and that's the thing that really confounds the half of America, Terry, who aren't in the stock market.

Recent CNN/ORC poll found 55 percent investing in the stock market, Terry, was a bad idea.

You know, I often say that we've become this one America with two economies. How do you change the attitude toward investing so more Americans can take part in wealth building?

I mean, you look at for example the lottery. You can't win if you don't play. Could you say the same thing about the stock market? If you're not in, you can't complain because some people are getting rich in stocks.

SAVAGE: The odds are so much better in the stock market paradoxically than the lottery. But paying $1 for a dream of couple of hundred millions seems like a good idea at the time. This is the tough part. We've burdened young people who get their first jobs with student loans so they don't seem to have any extra money and middle income families, middle aged families, with young kids are so worried about just keeping the roof over their heads.

But the secret is if you're working, the government's taking money out of your paycheck for Social Security, you don't see it, you don't spend it and the secret is to automatically have some money taken out for an IRA, the company retirement plan, it may not be the max, but the secret is when you're young, time is worth more than money so a little bit of money put in for the long run can really lead you down that path to growing wealth.

ROMANS: You know, Clark, if someone is watching us this morning and saying I'm not exposed to the stock market, I don't have any stock investments and I'm hearing how them talking about it's at record highs.

Is this the time for a first time investor to be getting into the stock market?

HOWARD: Yes, not taking a huge pile of cash and throwing it in all at once, I am a big fan of dollar cost averaging, you take a little sum of money and put it in each pay period or each month and if you feel there's no money in your budget at all and you have a 401(k) at work, put in 1 percent and six months from now put in another percent, and every six months after that, because we don't miss a penny on a dollar but if you tried to go to a dime on a dollar all at once your budget would blow apart.

So you do this slow and steady, but the younger you start, the power of money working for you, if you start putting money aside in your 20s, it's gigantic the effect it has by the time you're in your 60s versus starting in your 30s or 40s.

ROMANS: And maybe if you start putting money away in your 20s you'll have enough for a house in your 30s.

Don't move, Terry and Clark, stay right there because I want to talk about housing and a housing comeback.


JUAN GOMEZ, HOMEBUYER: The market is not allowing you to even think right now. I mean, you walk out and it's gone.


ROMANS: Homes flying off the market, in some parts of the country. How you can cash in, next.


ROMANS: Spring is in the air and the housing market is on a tear, finally. After years, let me say it again, years of decline, home prices are finally coming back up in most parts of the country.

But in many parts, the housing market is so hot that home sales are closing within days of listing. If you're selling your home, you now have the upper hand, but will this last forever?


ROMANS (voice-over): Six years after home prices collapsed in the United States, the housing market is back, and back with a vengeance in some parts, like Texas.

TONY NUNCIO, REALTOR: We literally are in line to go into the house and there's a line waiting for us to get out of the house. This market is by far the craziest that I've seen since I've been in this business.

ROMANS: Tony Nuncio is a realtor in Dallas. He's trying to find a home for his client Juan Gomez. But Gomez is finding out inventory in his area is so tight that homes are being snapped up as soon as they get listed.

GOMEZ: The market is not allowing you to even think. I mean, you walk out and it's gone.

ROMANS: Snap is right. These so-called flash sales are heating up in once hard-hit real estate markets across America from Texas to California, and Florida to Arizona, where realtor Marge Peck is.

MARGE PECK, REALTOR: Flash sales, here today, gone in a minute.

ROMANS: Why now? For one, interest rates have never been lower. 30- year fixed rate mortgages average just 3.5 percent, that's because the Federal Reserve has intervened to keep rates low and the fed plans to do so at least through 2015.

But that's not all. Investors are buying homes and converting them into rental properties, and that's tightening up inventories. Finally, pent up demand from regular folks who saw their property values plummet in recent years because of a glut of foreclosed homes finally seeing prices go up again, meaning now is the time to act for many. But can this spring fever last?

Yale professor Robert Shiller, who is one of the most respected trackers of the housing market, is cautious.

ROBERT SHILLER, PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: We've been going on in a weak economy for an awfully long time and people change their mind. You know, animal spirit comes back. I think we might be in an up housing market. I don't think it's secure yet.

ROMANS: What could go wrong? Another point or two added interest rates could dampen demand, either scenario is plausible over the next couple years ago. But for now, America's housing market is feeling spring fever in the air.


ROMANS: Clark Howard and Terry Savage are still with us.

Clark, do you believe this recovery, very low rates. You saw those flash sales in some parts of the country. Is it real the recovery?

HOWARD: It's an absolutely real recovery. Some of the frenzy though is a temporary phenomenon. You have a lot of people who are still underwater in their homes, and so they're on sellers strike. They can't really put their home on the market yet and the whole investor craze of Wall Street syndicates buying hundreds if not thousands of homes in these bulk buys around the country, they're going to hit a point soon that the economics aren't going to work for them buying these properties and turning them into rentals.

So the housing market is going to get into more of an equilibrium I think before this year is out, but it is a true recovery.

ROMANS: So, Terry, for a buyer, especially a first time home buyer, we're hearing about investors and flash sales and Wall Street syndicates but a new first time buyer, it's a good time for them?

SAVAGE: Oh, sure, and if you have the down payment and the good credit and a little bit of income security, I've been saying for well over a year that this is the time to start looking, and buying, but this is really good news because many people who have been underwater will at least be able to refinance if their home appraises for a higher value or will now be able to sell and move.

So higher prices like in any market will bring supply on, I don't think you have to race and run and be scared that you'll never get back into the market. What's tough is for people who don't have good credit, lost everything and don't have a down payment, they will be the ones renting those homes that investors are buying.

This is like any market, it got oversold. The bottom bounced back is very quick, prices are up 8 percent year over year, but then this market will find its equilibrium.

I don't think it's overdone. As long as the Fed keeps pumping money is able to keep interest rates low, as long as the Fed can keep control of that. This market will progress and housing prices could move higher.

ROMANS: And let's be clear. I mean, interest rates could stay low long enough, quite frankly, that if somebody shouldn't feel pressured to buy a house, if you can afford it. This is the time to be repairing your balance sheet. Check your credit.

You know, everyone is think being buying a house in the next 12 months should know what your credit history looks like, so that you're ready to take hold.

I want to look -- you know, all real estate is local, you guys, as you know, look at the one-year home price jumps in some of the hardest markets in the last few years.

Clark, as you pointed out, a big chunk are a result of investors buying up properties for resale later or to convert to rentals, making inventories so tight, helping drive up prices in these and other markets. What happens to regular folks, Clark, when investors start unloading those properties?

HOWARD: Well when investors start peeling off those properties, they'll be doing so slowly over a multiyear period, where their purchases of them have been in short cycles, really compressed over the last year, so I'm not worried about the investor saying, oops, thought this was going to be great being a landlord renting these properties.

I think the exit will be so gradual that that will not have a material effect on home prices and I want to echo that this is an absolutely great time to be a first time home buyer. You don't have a house to dump, even with these increases we're talking about. Houses are so much cheaper than they were years ago in so many markets and interest rates. This is virtually a once in a lifetime opportunity with these ultra cheap interest rates.

ROMANS: So, Terry, let me ask you about a mortgage. Is blurring better on the mortgage front if you're a first time home buyer, do you need a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and that's the way to get into this game?

SAVAGE: Absolutely, yes, you do. You lock it in around 3.5 percent for 30 years, even though you might not want to have that home for 30 years or you might want to pay extra on the mortgage. If down the road because of all the money creation, interest rates rise, will you find other things to do with your extra money.

But in the meantime, give yourself and your family budget that security of knowing what the rate is. Don't go for 2.9 percent because it will adjust in a few years. Lock it in for 30 years. That's the most important thing as a young person getting started.

ROMANS: And I think when you look at where rates are today if you're talking about anything adjustable there's only one way for that to adjust, up, up, up.

Clark and Kerry, so nice to see you this morning. Thank you for joining me.

HOWARD: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. With nearly 12 million Americans unemployed, you may feel lucky to have a job at all. For many of you the job you're doing doesn't match your job description.

One-quarter of workers say their bosses asked them to perform tasks not related to their jobs. Employees report that they've been asked to come up with a science fair project for the boss' daughter, help plan the boss's wedding, even bail a co-worker out of jail.

Guess what? You don't have to take it anymore. Coming up, we'll tell you why you may finally have the leverage to get a promotion or a raise.


ROMANS: There are three ways to make money: your house, your investments and your job.

The market is soaring. Home prices are rebounding but if you don't feel richer it might be because the labor market is still shaky. In fact, just 47 percent of Americans are working full time. Only 8 percent of Americans are working part time by choice. Many Americans are either looking for a job or have given up the search.

But if you're one of the lucky 47 percent, you can't let those numbers stop you from asking for a raise. The private sector has added jobs now for 37 straight months. New polling shows that 26 percent of you say that this is a good time to find a quality job. That's the highest level, the most confident on that level in more than five years.

Brad Karsh is the president of JB Training Solutions.

Brad, the labor market is still soft but it's getting better. And employees who are stuck during the recession are looking around.

So, I don't know, how come bosses aren't more worried?

BRAD KARSH, PRESIDENT, JB TRAINING SOLUTIONS: Well, you know, they really should be worried. A lot of people just as you've said have been sort of laying in wait, waiting for things to get better until they decide they want to move into a new position and now as you said might be the time when people start doing it. If I were a boss, I'd be focusing on some of my top talent.

ROMANS: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. Asking your boss for money can be scary. Prepare us for that. If you want to remind your boss that you're a high quality worker and you feel restless, how do you do it?

KARSH: Well, the first thing you want to do is you want to think about selling it. And fundamentally what you're doing is selling yourself to your boss as to why you deserve more money. And just like you'd sell anything, you have to prove it.

And, Christine, if you were selling your house, would you walk up to somebody and say, hey, you should really buy this. Totally. It's awesome house.

Now, you'd walk in. You'd say, it has this, it has this, it has that. And that's what you want to do.

Here's what I've done in the past that shows that I deserve this money. Here's what I'm going to do in the future that proves that I am worth it.

ROMANS: All right. According to a survey from DeVry University career advisory board, Brad, young workers think they'll have five jobs over their working lives. Reality is different. It's more like 12 to 15 jobs. That doesn't leave much time for growth within each job.

Do young workers just not see a path to growth within their companies?

KARSH: You know, they don't think as long-term about their careers as other previous generations did. And part of it because there's disloyalty on both ends. Gone are the days when you can get the job at the company and know you'll be there for 35 years.

So, they are thinking of it one year at a time. Now, I have done a lot of work with millenials. And people think they are job hoppers, but if they feel fulfilled, if they feel praised and recognized and feel like there's a career path for them, they are more likely to stay than even previous generations.

ROMANS: Last question. What do you tell the graduating class of 2013 about what this economy is going to do for them?

KARSH: What I tell them is it's volatile right now. But there are glimpses of hope. Keep at it, network really hard, get your foot in the door somewhere and prove that you can do it and that will land you a job and a career.

ROMANS: All right. Brad Karsh, thank you so much. Very nice to see you.

KARSH: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, study more of this and less of this. It's college decision time. Don't make your choice or give advice to a college bound loved one until you hear our next story.


ROMANS: College acceptance letters are out. Listen up, rising freshmen. Congratulations first. The choices you make today will shape the rest of your financial life. No pressure. No pressure at all.

You have to think about more than where you want to go to study. You have to think about what you're going to study, what's it going to cost you, what kind of job will your degree get you some day.

The cost of a college education has gone up more quickly than the annual median income has. Average annual tuition and fee at a 4-year public university for an in-state student, 8,600 bucks. It's more than 13,000 if you are out of state.

At a 4-year private school that price tag is above $29,000. Unbelievable. That means most students have no choice but to take out loans. Gone are the days of finding yourself in college like that title character in "Tommy Boy."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hear I graduated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just a shade under a decade. All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, a lot of people go to college for seven years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. They're called doctors.


ROMANS: Doctors? That's a good return on investment. But art, history and architecture majors -- not so much.

Two-thirds of college seniors who graduate in 2011 has student loan debt. The average debt per student, $26,600.

It's true that salaries are up more than 5 percent for those graduating this year with a bachelor degree. That's good. If you're not going to get a job that makes enough to pay off loans, you'll pay for the rest of your life. That's because in this country, we give people as much student aid as they want for whatever major they're going to have for however long they're going to be borrowing and it's a dangerous trap.

So, when you start school this fall, think about what you like but also about what one day get you a job. It's an intersection of what you're good at, what you like to do and what someone will pay you for. If you're still in high school, it's never too early to start thinking about the future. Think "Modern Family's" Alex Dunphy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously though. Don't study too hard, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm totally going to have fun, in Iceland (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, we're going to lose her.


ROMANS: Geeky and smart aren't always the same thing and "Smart is the New Rich".

The market is soaring. Home prices are rebounding, do you feel any richer?

Find me on Facebook and Twitter, my handle is @Christine Romans.

And please, join me right back here for "YOUR MONEY" at 1:00 p.m. Eastern today.


ROMANS: When you saw the news of the shooting at Newtown, did you think what we're working on is really meaningful?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disheartening. We (INAUDIBLE) technology and have it sitting on the shelf and knowing it would have decreased the gun violence.


ROMANS: I'm going to pull the trigger myself on a new gun that could make firearms safer and tell you why you can't buy one.

"CNN SATURDAY MORNING" continues right now.