ST. LOUIS ( TheStreet) -- Albert Pujols is arguably the best player in baseball, but he's a lousy example for homeowners thinking about testing the market.The nine-time all-star, three-time National League Most Valuable Player, two-time Golden Glove-winning St. Louis Cardinals first baseman has spent a decade getting very comfy in his team's No. 5. He leads all active players in batting average (.330), slugging (.622) and on-base percentage (.425) and his more than 400 home runs put him among the Top 50 long-ball hitters of all time. He's also at the end of an eight-year, $114 million contract, and he and the team blew through a Feb. 15 negotiation deadline. With the 2011 season under way, Pujols, the Cardinals and their fans are left to ponder where the most feared part of the team lineup and face of the franchise will be on Opening Day 2012. But that can't possibly have any bearing on homeowners, right? A homeowner or family looking for a change of scenery surely wouldn't be tempted by the upcoming spring selling season and a 4.91% interest rate on a 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage, which Freddie Mac says is lower than rates during the absolute dead season of mid-February and could bring in post-recession buyers. "If homeowners don't have to sell for some reason, most don't -- home is a place where they establish community ties, grow their families and build their futures," says Stephanie Stringer, spokeswoman for the National Association of Realtors. "The decision to own a home is much more than a financial consideration, although the long-term investment value is a part of it." As Stringer and the Realtors have said before -- and their 2010 profile of home buyers and sellers make clear -- selling a home is a deeply personal choice, and there's more than one reason for doing so. While there are also several reasons for Pujols not to finish his career as a Cardinal, the following four scenarios are bad news for baseball and housing free agents alike:
As mentioned earlier, St. Louis has treated Pujols pretty well over the past decade and even scored him a World Series ring for his troubles. If he's looking for a change of scenery and employer, as 15% of home sellers did last year -- a number that jumps to 18% for people 18 to 34, like the 31-year-old Pujols -- he may want to take a better look at current market conditions.
The Cardinals top starting pitchers -- Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter -- have undergone Tommy John surgery for ligament damage. The closer, Ryan Franklin, is having a tough time closing. The only other fearsome bat in the lineup, left fielder Matt Holliday's, was signed to a five-year, $120 million deal after only a year with the team while Pujols -- who's the same age and consistently better -- is left holding the line.
Don't let the Cardinals' $105 million payroll fool you, they're very much a small-market team. Among Major League Baseball's 30 teams, St. Louis' television market ranks 24th, making Pujols the best player most of the country's never seen.
Maybe you've put some serious years into your home, as Pujols has, raised your children and want to take all that money you've socked into the house and spend it someplace a little splashier -- perhaps on a condo in the city.
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