June 9, 2019

Homeownership has critical community, economic and social benefits


2019 NETAR President

There is debate in a corner of the policymaking world about re-evaluating the role of homeownership in the American Dream.  It’s an extension of the loss of about $7 trillion in home equity during the Great Recession, which made some ask if policymakers put too much faith in the benefits of homeownership. The question is: Should there be more focus on other aspects of upward mobility and admit that homeownership is not for everyone?

The debate may be interesting, but if you want to test what the public thinks about homeownership, ask renters and those who are still living with family members what they think. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) surveyed this group in their Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.

According to NAR, when non-homeowners were asked for the main reason why they currently did not own a home, most respondents cited mortgage affordability. The big picture from the survey and other NAR surveys is 75 percent of non-homeowners, and 90 percent of current homeowners said homeownership is essential to the American Dream.

June has been proclaimed National Homeownership Month this year as it has been in years past. So, despite the stain of doubt left by the Great Recession, homeownership commitment is an important option for many Americans to invest in their communities, build wealth, and achieve the American Dream remains strong.

There is no question the economic aspects of homeownership get most of the public attention. So, what better time than National Homeownership Month to pause and look at the other side of the homeownership story.

A couple years ago, a research economist at the NAR wrote a white paper that sheds some light on the often-overlooked facets of homeownership. It pointed out that in addition to tangible economic benefits, research has shown that homeownership brings substantial social benefits for families, communities, and the country as a whole. These societal benefits are just as much of the motivation for policymakers to promote homeownership as the economic advantages. Simply put, homeownership provides much of the societal glue for healthier communities on both the financial and social sides of the ledger.

Here are the often overlooked but documented social benefits of homeownership:

- Increased charitable activity.

- Civic participation in both local community and national issues (including voting).

- Greater awareness of the political process.

- Higher incidence of membership in voluntary organizations and church attendance.

- Greater attachment to the neighborhood and neighbors.

- Lower teen pregnancy by children living in owned homes.

- Higher student test scores by children living in owned homes.

- Higher rate of high school graduation, thereby higher earnings.

- Homeowners take on a greater responsibility such as home maintenance and acquiring the financial skills to handle mortgage payments and those skills transfer to their children.

- Lower teenage delinquencies.

- Homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, happiness, and higher perceived control over their lives.

- Solid wealth gains for homeowners under normal housing market conditions.

- Homeowners not only experience a significant increase in housing satisfaction but also obtain a higher satisfaction even in the same home in which they resided as renters.

- Homeowners better maintain their homes, and high-quality structures also raise mental health -renter-occupied housing appreciates less than owner-occupied housing.

- Housing prices are higher in high-ownership neighborhoods.

- Maintenance behavior of individual homeowners is influenced by those of their neighbors.

You can further explore the aspects of homeownership at these two web sites produced by NAR to highlight and add community focus. Home Ownership Matters ttps:// and HouseLogic

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It’s the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,200 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, monthly Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics can be found on the NETAR websites at .