June is National Homeownership Month. In recognition, National Association of Realtors President Elizabeth Mendenhall stated in a June 1st press release that “National Homeownership Month is a time to celebrate and promote the modern American Dream of owning a home. Homeownership changes lives and enhances futures, and many Americans see it as one of their greatest hopes. These individuals are counting on the nation’s 1.3 million Realtors to champion and protect homeownership and help make it more affordable, attainable and sustainable (nar.realtor).”
The NAR provides a history of National Homeownership Month which goes back almost a century (nar.realtor). The earliest organized commemorations began in the 1920’s through local associations to bring together consumers and brokers during “Real Estate Day” events. In 1955, the National Association of Realtors created a national “Realtor Week” to promote the value of Realtors when buying a home. The celebration of homeownership was modernized in 1976 when “Realtor Week” was changed to “Private Property Week.” Then in 1986, the celebration was changed to “American Home Week” to promote homeownership as part of the American Dream. June became National Homeownership Month through a proclamation by President Bush in 2002, which expanded the American Home Week to include HUD initiatives. Although 2008 was the last official proclamation of National Homeownership Month, it has been observed annually. However, last year, President Trump revived the annual proclamation recognizing the significance of homeownership.
Although the idea of homeownership hasn’t changed since the 1920’s, many things have. For example, buying a home is much easier and affordable today than it was then. You can now search homes from your couch, rather than driving to individual broker offices. Additionally, low down payments and thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages have made homeownership a reality for many.
Of course, some things haven’t changed in a century. A home is still an asset that maintains relative market value. Given regular cycles of up and down markets, real estate can appreciate over time. There are also some tax advantages to owning a home (consult your tax preparer). Furthermore, homeownership stabilizes communities and encourages civic pride, which positively affect home values.
Additionally, there are many social benefits to homeownership. Studies demonstrate that home owners tend to be more charitable, have an increased connection to their neighborhood, have an increased general positive life outlook, express an increased self-esteem and higher life satisfaction, and be healthier. Other studies indicate that children living in owner-occupied homes have higher test scores, higher graduation rates, decreased delinquencies, and an increased participation in organized activities.
The comparisons of the costs of renting vs. the costs of homeownership haven’t changed over time. Of course, the debate takes on a different tone depending on the state of the economy. During the Great Recession, many believed that owning a home was folly. Even after the recession, many continued to believe that real estate wasn’t a viable investment, while discounting the other benefits of homeownership. The homeownership rate bottomed to a modern low of 62.9 percent during the second quarter of 2016 (census.gov). However, homeownership is back in vogue. Even with increased home prices and mortgage rates, buying a home today can still be less expensive than renting.
You have a relationship with your home. Your home is a silent witness to your life. When you own a home, the relationship is intimate and symbiotic, which contributes to an intangible and intrinsic sense of wholeness.