Hedging my real estate bets

I think everyone who doesn't have his head in the sand realizes that the housing market has a long painful slide ahead of it. I am trying to protect my biggest investment

Like most of my friends and most Americans who are lucky enough to own a home, my house is my largest investment.  Sure I have some stock, CDS etc, but ultimately my wealth- at least on paper is very much dependent on the value of my house.

I believe, and I think most agree with me, that the housing market has a long fall ahead of it.  With the growing inventories of new and previously owned homes, and the huge number of houses that while likely enter the market in the next 1-2 years after foreclosures, a drop of somewhere between 10 and 20% seems to be a given.  I am in the downtown Chicago market, but I suspect the case is more or less the same all over.


So what’s a guy to do?  I don’t relish the idea of selling and renting.  Even if I did, I think my opportunity to sell my condo may be long gone.  I talked with a realtor about a year ago- when I first considered the idea- and the market was very slow.   Now it seems to be glacial.

The other alternative and a much more attractive one is to buy puts on the Schiller housing index for my area.  Seems like a wonderful hedge- very likely to comfort the blow of the falling housing market.  I can’t imagine a scenario in which housing over the short term will appreciate.   As far as I can tell, these trade on the CME.  I found them listed on optionsexpess, but I couldn't find a quote.

I was hoping for some insight from others as to how to trade these.  I can’t really tell how much money each contract would hedge or even where to buy them.  My broker is Etrade- and I don’t have any experience trading commodities or other instruments of this sort.  Also,  other than the logistic issues, are there any reasons not to make this type of trade.


Joshua Avram
Joshua Avram: MD, Wash U; BS, Yale. A noted cardiologist, the doctor applies his medical knowledge to his investing in large pharm and biotechs. The doctor has correctly predicted several very exciting biotech acquisitions over the past several years, including the acquisitions of Esperion (Pfizer), Amylin (Bristol Myers) and Imclone (Bristol Myers). The doctor is presently long Novo Nord

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  • max

    October 03, 2007

    That is a really interesting issue. I don't know the answer off hand (though I should since I am in the business), but I will get back to you.

  • marlene

    October 03, 2007

    Yes, I too would love to have advice on this. This is a big issue and one that many of us share.

  • mk

    October 03, 2007

    If it is your home, not an investment property, I don't understand why you would care so much about monthly changes in its value. Do you plan to move elsewhere or are ready to retire and downsize? If you plan to live in that home for another 5 years, it shouldn't matter.

    If you are thinking of buying a bigger home, then don't worry about the fall in your investment value as bigger homes are also cheaper now than they were when your own property was at peak.

  • st

    November 02, 2007

    Move approximately 1-5% of your total net worth into gold and silver, either holding actual bullion or coins, or some form of e-gold account, or stocks in gold companies. As people move out of real estate, that money has to go somewhere; as the economy tanks they look for a safe haven and gold will go up. Make sure you always have enough cash on hand that you aren't forced to sell your metals during a temporary dip. Gold isn't an investment in that it's not a way to increase wealth, but it's a hedge against inflation, a recession/depression, and falling real estate prices.

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