Would you be interested if I told you there is a way for you to live happier and healthier, accumulate wealth, and build social status?
What if, at the same time, you could boost the educational performance of your children and lower your chance of becoming a victim of crime? Do I have your interest peeked even greater?
Finally, what if, in addition to the above-mentioned opportunities, you would realize higher civic participation, enhance your volunteering activity and lessen any need for public assistance? Is there anyone reading who I haven’t created a mild case of curiosity about now?
In 1931 James Truslow Adams coined in his book, “The Epic of America,” the concept of; “The American Dream.” He stated: “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement… a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
My contention is the “American Dream” by Adams contains, as an essential element, the opportunity for each of us to own our own homes. Homeownership, through many independent studies, over many years, has proven to provide all of the benefits discussed above. Let me take just a little time with you to cover some detail on each of them.
Homeownership, in addition to the benefits I cited above, accounted for 14 percent of the United States’ economic activity in the housing sector alone. Homeowners’ real estate holdings totaled $16,500,000,000,000.00 ($16.5 trillion, included 000’s for effect) in 2010. This is after all the devastation we have realized in our “Great Recession.” If we subtract liabilities, American homeowners’ net value (equity) in 2010 was $6.3 trillion; astounding!
If we go back to the turn of the 20th Century, America’s homeownership rate was below 50%. It has gradually increased to a record high in 2004 of 69% and is currently hovering around 67% as I write this piece.
A fact discussed as a component of adding the benefits I have covered is the stability homeownership provides to the community. A homeowner moves far less frequently than a renter. The difference is staggering; a renter changes residence 6 times as often as homeowners. Homeowners who do move cite they do so: first– to a better home or neighborhood, second– for family reasons, and lastly– for employment.
Homeowners positively impact their children by achieving higher levels of education and reducing deviant behavior. Studies show that home purchase is one of our largest financial decisions; homeowners tend to show greater responsibility through managing their financial commitment and maintaining the skills required to handle the payments. Additionally, bad behavior which would detract from the value is minimized in the home, and parents help “police the neighborhood,” eliminating similar activities outside. It comes to reason that with children reaching higher levels of education, their earning capacity improves as well.
Children who grow up in an owned home have a much higher probability of becoming a homeowner. Part of our society’s push to improve learning should include a strategy to promote homeownership.
Civic duties increase as the natural move from spending time and money maintaining the home spills over into an interest in the quality of the surrounding community. The political process to is improved as incentives to protect the neighborhood are managed through concern over who is making community decisions. Homeowners vote at a much higher percentage (nearly 50% more) than renters. Too, homeowners know the names of school board members and elected officials twice as often as renters.
Volunteering increases, as does attendance in churches. The reason suggested for this is simply the stability of the homeowner equates to their interest in engaging in the community; this comes in a variety of ways.
Ownership includes the feeling of individual autonomy through possessing our own property. Wealth is created with the appreciation of the asset, which has proven to be a reliable investment over time. Homeowners can better deal with financial setbacks or being laid off because they can access their equity. This gives the community self-reliant citizens who don’t require as much public assistance.
As people become homeowners, they are likely to have higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and higher perceived control of their life. The homeowners develop a sense of being able to do things as well as anyone participating in stable relationships. Homeowners feel self-fulfillment having reached the milestone of achieving “The American Dream.”