Homeownership Still The American Dream, Fuels Economy

by Phoebe Chongchua

It’s billed as the American Dream and yet for some it’s been an all-time American nightmare.

Still “the home is central to American life” writes the National Association of Homebuilders in its report titled: Homeownership Works, released earlier this year.

Of course the report aims to show how housing is vital not just to homeowners but to the nation’s growth. The publication looks at the contributions that homeownership make to the economy specifically through residential construction, remodeling, rental housing, and various other related aspects of the industry.

The publication shows how homeownership is a vital thread that weaves together a nation. It points to research released earlier this year by Pew Research Center Study, showing that 81% of of adults agree “that buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make”. The sentiment was mirrored by renters (also 81%) who reported they would like to buy a house.

According to the publication, homeownership contributes to household wealth even though many homes have lost significant value in recent years. NAHB reports that “the nation’s homeowners have more than $6 trillion in home equity and they still believe in homeownership.”

The equity that accumulated in their homes flows into the economy through education, health expenses, home improvements that increase value of the home, and funding retirement.

Some other findings reported in the publication include polling data based on a survey of 2,000 people likely to vote in 2010. The poll was conducted by for NAHB in May by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C.

It showed that the majority of voters (71%) oppose proposals to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction. Findings also revealed that 95% of homeowners were glad they purchased a home; and 73% who didn’t own a home were hopeful to one day.

Despite the housing crisis, those in this survey viewed retirement savings programs and homeownership as the best investments. And, 80% of those surveyed said they would advise a family member or close friend to buy real estate.

But for a healthy economy to exist, NAHB points out that “rental housing is essential to a well-housed population.” The NAHB writes that there are many benefits from the rental housing market, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University in “America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building On Opportunities”.

First, moving to rental housing often is less expensive than homeownership. Second, the primary upkeep of the property is the responsibility of the landlord. Third, while landlords often collect first and last months rent, it is still less than a downpayment. However, the majority of people will rent and own at some point in their lives.

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy now, most find that their attraction to homeownership creates a sense of belonging and is a an integral part of their lifestyle.

“Americans still see homeownership as a core value and a key building block of being in the middle class and creating strong jobs in their communities. Owning a home isn’t just a policy to people. It isn’t just a commodity. It is a core value,” Celinda Lake, President Lake Research Partners, writes NAHB in its report.

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