That “A House is not just a Home” resonates for more reasons that the wonderful Luther Vandros song. The house we live in, is often far more than a location to which mail is delivered. It creates memories that will ultimately last a lifetime along with family, friends and the communities surrounding the places we call home.
Of course, a significant back story typically begins long before one can idealize about the benefits of owning one’s own home or renting. Issues like kids having their own rooms, wanting room to entertain or having relatives or friends staying over, being financially stable, finding the right house in an affordable neighborhood are factors. Being able to secure financing and a mortgage is key. Honest and sustained financial sacrifice is where it starts.
These are the circumstances, often known as the “rights of passage” along the path to having a share of “The American Dream”. Once a share of The Dream is secured, it often becomes a matter of managing the accrued resources of home ownership to make The Dream manifest.
Home ownership can be a commitment to strengthening families and good citizenship, because it provides people with more responsibility and control over their living environment. The individual and local incentives to maintaining property and public spaces become clear with the qualitative and financial benefits of attending better schools and having higher aspirations, amongst people who share the same goals.
Home value appreciation, mortgage interest deduction, property tax deductions, low interest equity loans, capital gain exclusions and preferential tax treatment add up to far more than a current year financial gain.
These are the essential starting points to passing on wealth from one generation to the next. The current financial stress we all face does not make this an easy task. However, our parents didn’t have a “walk in the park” and they still managed to overcome, in order to help our generation achieve some of our goals. Despite the ongoing housing mess, the current low interest rates makes ownership a compelling opportunity to create wealth for the next generation. Accordingly, I think the legacy our parents left us informs our responsibility to make similar or greater efforts, on behalf of our kids and their kids.
Ultimately, the decision to rent or own are individual choices that have their own consequences. Nonetheless, the following is a bit of a historical primer that applied yesterday, as much as it does today, on how some helped create opportunities for those to come. For those who have wondered about this issue, this is a worthwhile look: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW764dXEI_8&feature=youtube_gdata_player