Jim Cramer bought bitcoin when it was worth $12,000 – and said he recently sold half his ‘phony’ portfolio to pay off a mortgage

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CNBC ‘Mad Money’ host, Jim Cramer.


TV anchor Jim Cramer said he bought “a lot of” bitcoin when it was worth $12,000 and used some profits from his investment to pay off a home loan.

“I paid off a mortgage yesterday with it,” the “Mad Money” host said Thursday on CNBC, adding that selling half his portfolio helped him.

Bitcoin hit an all-time high of near $65,000 on Wednesday, and was last trading 4% lower around $60,600 on Friday. The digital asset’s price is up more than 105% so far this year.

“From the chart, I may be the only natural seller. But it was so great to pay off a mortgage. It was like, kind of, phony money paying for real money,” Cramer said.

“I now own a house – lock, stock and barrel – because I bought this currency.”

Cramer recently indicated he is bullish on crypto exchange Coinbase, calling it one of many “cult-assets” in the market.

In a podcast with crypto investor Anthony Pompliano last month, Cramer said he made a ton of money thanks to investing in bitcoin, and that it gave him higher gains than gold. He said he followed Pompliano’s advice and put half a million dollars into bitcoin over the course of a few days.

The TV anchor and former hedge fund manager has previously said companies are being negligent if they don’t consider adding bitcoin to their balance sheets.

“As far as a way to be able to have a pastiche of things to do with your cash, I’m all for it,” he told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin. “I think it’s almost irresponsible not to include it. Every treasurer should be going to boards of directors and saying should we put a small portion of our cash in bitcoin.”

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Homeowners in Portugal are getting paid to have mortgages as negative rates spread

Aerial view of Funchal with traditional cable car above the city, in Madeira island, Portugal
A cable car in Portugal perhaps floats above some of those mortgage holders with negative rates.

  • In Portugal, mortgage holders are seeing negative rates – meaning they’re getting paid by their banks.
  • What was supposed to be a rare phenomenon has likely increased during the pandemic.
  • Meanwhile, home-buying in the US has become expensive and difficult throughout the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

How would you like to be paid to have a mortgage? Maybe you should buy a house in Portugal.

Some mortgage holders actually have negative mortgage rates – meaning their banks pay them interest. The Wall Street Journal’s Patricia Kowsmann reported on the phenomenon, which was rare pre-pandemic. Rates were originally allowed that low a few years back to help bolster the economy.

But in Portugal, mortgages are increasingly seeing negative rates, a consequence of low interest rates in general across the developed world. One consumer-rights group, Deco, told the WSJ that it estimated more than 30,000 mortgages had negative rates back in 2019, but that has more than doubled now. BPI, the bank for one of the negative mortgage holders profiled, said it has paid out over 1 million pounds in interest.

The negative rates aren’t just in Portugal; some mortgage holders in Denmark are also increasingly seeing interest. However, banks there have begun administering fees for deposits; in many instances, according to the WSJ, the fees can offset the interest that the mortgage holders are receiving.

Meanwhile, in the US, prospective buyers should be prepared to pay more than the asking price, as supply stays low and goes quickly. As Insider’s Taylor Borden wrote: “It’s actually a horrible time to buy a house.”

Yes, Borden writes, American mortgage rates are low, but prices are high, effectively pushing the American dream of homeownership out of reach. Also, as the American economy has started reopening this spring, mortgage rates have gone back above 3% again, and seem likely to keep rising.

But even for the lucky mortgage holders of Portugal, it’s not all smooth sailing. One person that the WSJ spoke to, Paula Cristina Santos, has had to halt her own plans for buying a house. One reason why: The charge from her bank to get a new mortgage is just too high – and can’t compare to her current negative rate.

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Surging lumber costs have increased the average cost of a new house by $24,000

lumber and building materials store
  • Lumber prices have skyrocketed since the pandemic began, adding $24,000 to the price of new homes.
  • Demand for materials soared during the pandemic as supply tightened with factories idle.
  • The National Association of Home Builders chair said vaccine rollout should help bring costs down.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While the pandemic hit the US, everyone seemed to want their own house. With mortgage rates at record lows and no need to commute to work in cities for at least 2020, prices soared everywhere. But they’re also soaring because there isn’t enough wood out there: lumber, to be exact.

Now it’s clear how much the lumber shortage is adding to the skyrocketing price of new homes: a whopping $24,000.

That stat is courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which found the price of an average family home increased by $24,386 since April, with the market value of a multifamily home increasing by $8,998 over the same time period.

A report from the NAHB in February said the lumber supply chain impact came as factories shut down almost immediately last March for safety reasons, and then as demand spiked, supply couldn’t keep up. Lumber prices have jumped by almost 200% since April 2020.

“The elevated price of lumber is adding approximately $24,000 to the price of a new home,” NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke told real estate news site HousingWire. “Though builders continue to see strong buyer traffic, recent increases for material costs and delivery times, particularly for softwood lumber, have depressed builder sentiment this month. Policymakers must address building material supply chain issues to help the economy sustain solid growth in 2021.”

Zillow’s Producer Price Index found that February’s 2.8% annual increase in sales was the strongest it had been since October 2018, meaning that while more houses are being sold, supply for building materials, like lumber, remain low and costly.

On March 12, the NAHB, along with more than 35 other housing organizations, wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo asking her to examine the lumber supply chain and look into solutions for the high costs.

“Housing and construction can do their parts to create jobs, boost the economy to its pre-pandemic strength, and provide safe and affordable housing for all Americans, but in order to do so the federal government needs to address skyrocketing lumber prices and chronic shortages,” the letter said.

Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110.96 million in taxes and fees, the letter said, emphasizing the economic benefits the government would reap in finding solutions to the expensive building materials.

Fowke told HousingWire that the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines will help decrease the costs of lumber since more mills will be able to safely reopen, and with more homes being built, home builder confidence should rise. (Homebuilder confidence fell by two points in March.)

The timeline on when material prices will decline is yet to be determined, but prices might start to come down with President Joe Biden on Monday promising 100 million COVID-19 shots in the next 10 days.

“Shots in arms and money in pockets – that’s important,” Biden said.

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