CNNMoney is not exactly intellectual discussion of economic and investing issues but normally it offers fairly good material for the large number of people. Especially those who really don’t want to read Warren Buffett or Brad Setser. Still the following quote in their article, Cashing in on hot real estate is just wrong:
San Diego-based certified financial planners Christopher Van Slyke and Terry Green recommend an unconventional plan: taking out a new $500,000 ARM.
Handel and Laport can pay off their existing mortgage before the rate rises and retire their other debts. They can put the remaining $200,000 into stock and bond funds.
To be sure, borrowing against a house to put the proceeds into the market rarely makes sense. But in Handel and Laport’s case it does because so much of their net worth is tied up in their home, and the super-hot L.A. real estate market looks primed for a fall…
They can convert equity that might melt away.
They can what? In no way does increasing their leverage convert equity that might melt away. Any amount of “melting away” will still happen after this increase in leverage – no conversion has happened. They still have a full ownership interest in the real estate. If the value of their house fell $300,000 before or after this supposed “conversion” they would “lose” (on paper) the same amount: $300,000. The investment risk for the house has not changed (for the whole portfolio you could argue it has but that gets complicated and subject to debate).