January 15, 2013

Betting On the House

A new book by Ed Harris ’85 challenges experts’ negative forecasts for the US housing market.

Amanda Chalifoux
Topics: Real Estate

While Ed Harris ’85 is the first to admit he’s no real estate expert, the former investment banker has plenty of opinions about the future of the US housing market. His new self-published book, Put It on the House: Why Home Prices Will Soar, challenges current ideas on what’s thought to be a slow—and somewhat unpromising—real estate recovery.

Advice for First-Time Homebuyers: “Don’t be afraid to buy. I think this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

“I think the gloom and doom is overdone,” says Harris, a vice president of business development for Apex Learning. “I wanted to question the consensus wisdom of the moment. Everyone said there was overbuilding during the bubble, so I started my research there.”

When Harris compared construction rates of new housing units to demographics, he found that construction was relatively steady over the last 50 years, including the period 2000-2007 — precisely when many say there was overbuilding. US new housing construction has plunged since the downturn, and net growth in housing units is now about 20 percent of what it has been historically. “Since 2008, 3 million housing units haven’t been built that should have been built based on simple demographics,” Harris says.

Words of Wisdom: “There are many different paths to success. There’s not one secret formula..”

Relative to incomes, Harris adds, homes have never been more affordable in the post-WWII period. “I think the market has nowhere to go but up,” he says. “Since I published the book, it seems like with each passing month, the data just gets more positive. Housing is so fundamental. This is not like a decline in the production of watering cans; it’s a basic human need.”

Make a Gift

Bring your generosity full circle with a gift to Columbia Business School.


Post a Class Note

Looking for an easy way to keep in touch with your network? You're a click away.

Post a Note

Attendance at Reunion 2015 Sets New Record

A record-breaking 2,500 alumni, guests, faculty and staff members, and students attended this year’s Reunion Weekend, which took place
April 17–19. This tops last year’s gathering of 2,400 attendees.


Visit Website >


jQuery(document).ready(function() { if(GetParameterValues('item') && GetParameterValues('item') !='') { var show1 = GetParameterValues('item'); jQuery('#fullProfile li').hide(); jQuery('#fullProfile li#' + show1).show(); } function GetParameterValues(param) { var url = window.location.href.slice(window.location.href.indexOf('?') + 1).split('&'); for (var i = 0; i < url.length; i++) { var urlparam = url[i].split('='); if (urlparam[0] == param) { return urlparam[1]; } } } });