What does owning a home really mean?

I recently ran across a study by the National Association of Realtors called “Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing”. Whew- it’s a mouthful all right.  But I found it fascinating.   All the graphs and charts and the use of words like correlation and variable pulled me right in- yes, I am a bit of a geek…

One part I found particularly interesting talked about the correlation (there’s that word again) between homeownership and civic responsibility.  Basically it said that a homeowner tends to be more involved in their community than a renter.  That seems pretty obvious to me, although they were quick to point at that it is hard to tell if it is the ownership or the stability of the neighborhood that really matters.  In more depth here is what they said

The extent of community involvement and the benefits that accrue to society are hard to measure, but several researchers have found that homeowners tend to be more involved in their communities than renters. For example, homeowners were found to be more politically active than renters.18 Homeowners participate in elections much more frequently than renters. A study by Glaeser and DiPasquale found that 77 percent of homeowners said they had at some point voted in local elections compared with 52 percent of renters. 19 The study also found a greater awareness of the political process among homeowners. About 38 percent of homeowners knew the name of their local school board representative, compared with only 20 percent of renters. The authors also found a higher incidence of membership in voluntary organizations and church attendance among homeowners.

As before, it is not clear if homeownership in itself determines more civic participation or if the correlated variable of residential stability is more responsible for higher civic participation. One study that directly attempted to disentangle the two impacts found length of residence to be more important than homeownership. Therefore, according to this study a renter household in a stable neighborhood is more likely to be engaged in a community and civic activity than a homeowner who frequently moves. There also is some evidence that homeownership programs may result in increased property values near subsidized or locally assisted homeownership sites and can, under the right circumstances, draw other non-housing investment to the community.20

Pretty cool huh? Overall the study found that homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes. Two-thirds of all U.S. households who own their home currently are enjoying these benefits.

The positive social benefits from homeownership and stable housing are compelling.  Homeownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency.

Owning a home is different from renting. With the home purchase comes the pride of ownership and the sense of belonging in a community where one has a financial stake in the neighborhood. Perhaps, homeowners are “happier” just from having achieved the so-called “American Dream” — a sense of accomplishment, a milestone. Also, ownership entails greater individual responsibility. As discussed, homeownership requires a large (if not the largest) financial outlay of a person’s life and often requires the responsibility of a mortgage spanning 30 years. Therefore, it is a long-term commitment, which may alter human behavior.

 So if you are on the fence about buying, you now have one more great reason to get off the fence and find the house of your dreams.  Call me and I’d be happy to help!


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