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What ’80s Hair Bands Can Teach You About Homeownership

What ’80s Hair Bands Can Teach You About Homeownership

"This Is Spinal Tap."

MGM Studios

We’ve done a lot of research recently that demonstrates the financial benefits of owning a home. With home prices and mortgage rates set to keep rising this year, the “penalty” of not buying is only going to get more costly.

But it occurred to me that maybe you don’t want to hear it from an economist. Maybe you’d rather hear words of real estate wisdom from the shaggy-haired rock gods who ruled radio and MTV in the ’80s. You would? OK, here we go:

1. ‘Hell Hole,’ by Spinal Tap

I couldn’t do hair bands justice without a shoutout to “This Is Spinal Tap,” the fictional “rockumentary” from 1984.  And from that soundtrack, “Hell Hole” seemed the perfect inspiration for starting a home search. After all, if you’re living in a hellhole, it’s time to look for some new digs. And like Nigel Tufnel’s amplifier, our top 10 list will go all the way to 11.


2. ‘Round and Round,’ by Ratt

Ratt didn’t show up in the charts much beyond 1984, when this hit made the Billboard Top 100. As they sing it, “with love we’ll find a way—just give it time.” Exactly! The forced savings component of a mortgage, along with the compounding effects of price appreciation while avoiding compounding increases in rents, provides the calculus of why owning builds wealth over time. But I guess that’s less catchy.


3. ‘Just Like Paradise,’ by David Lee Roth

I admit I saw David Lee Roth twice in concert in the 1980s. He was so entertaining, and Van Halen just wasn’t the same without him. I chose this song for the ownership playlist, because owning isn’t just a financial decision. “This must be just like livin’ in paradise,” Roth sings (OK, he’s talking about a girl), “and I don’t wanna go home.” Well, when you own your home, going back there can feel just like living in paradise.


 4. ‘You Give Love a Bad Name,’ by Bon Jovi

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No big-hair list would be complete without Bon Jovi. Not only is this track one of the band’s most popular songs, it also frames why renting isn’t a solid financial strategy. For Bon Jovi, passion was the prison from which you couldn’t break free. Likewise, renting today has its own chains as rents are escalating much more quickly than income and inflation, leaving no room to save for the future. That’s why many people call renting an inflation trap. Moreover, in 80% of the U.S. today, it actually costs more to rent than to buy. So use some Bon Jovi angst to inspire you to save up for a down payment to break free from the chains of renting.


 5. ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine,’ by Guns N’ Roses

Who hasn’t rocked out with an air guitar to this one? “Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place / Where as a child I’d hide,” Axl Rose crooned memorably. Some of our best memories of childhood were of our own “warm safe place.” We buy homes for our families, so we can create those childhood memories for the next generation.


6. ‘Is This Love,’ by Whitesnake

Whitesnake had only one top 20 hit, but it’s a classic, with the chorus asking over and over, “Is this love that I’m feeling / Is this the love that I’m searching for?” If you’re searching for a home this spring, you’re not alone, seeing how the traffic on this site has been growing. Homeownership is a solid part of the American dream, and as such it “really has a hold on” most folks, even after the housing crisis. Don’t shake it—homeownership is still one of the surest ways for middle-income Americans to build financial security.


 7. ‘Rock of Ages,’ by Def Leppard

I couldn’t resist picking this one, because of the shoutout to me: “Watch the night go up in Smoke.” The song also says, “It’s better to burn out, yeah, than fade away.” Making a decision to buy can be scary—it’s the largest financial transaction most people make, and it typically comes with a commitment to pay for it over 30 years. But the financial and qualitative benefits are normally well worth the risk.


8. ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn,’ by Poison

Homeownership is not easy. Our financial analysis included the estimated annual expenditures that are needed to maintain a property, and even so, owning came out on top financially. As Poison‘s Bret Michaels sang, the benefits do require some pain and sacrifice. BTW, check out his lovely Calabasas mansion that’s on the market today.


 9. ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy,’ by Great White

This track might be appropriate for those who ran into distress and suffered foreclosure during the financial crisis—they might indeed feel “once bitten, twice shy.” But academic research shows that households that once owned a home but were unable to hold onto it are no worse off financially after the loss than those who never tried. So if you were among the many who lost a home during the crisis, don’t let that stop you from trying to own again.


 10. ‘Love in an Elevator,’ by Aerosmith

This is a perfect song for the expensive markets where home prices are shooting up like a high-speed elevator in a skyscraper, and homeowners could potentially make the most money over time. Buy in Northern California now, and it will cost you. But you’re “gonna be a penthouse pauper / gonna be a millionaire” over time.


11. ‘Jump,’ by Van Halen

Van Halen rounds out my list with “Jump,” which is the call to action for today’s buyer: “Baby how you been? You say you don’t know, you won’t know until you begin.” With home prices, rents, and mortgage rates all expected to rise, you might as well jump into homeownership right now.

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