Homeowners also have the benefit of decorating and making changes to their home as they see if including painting and renovations to meet specific desires or needs of the living space (Leonhardt, 2005). They can modify their home in any way that suits them and that they feel adds value to their experience. Renters do not have the same benefit as they are often not allowed to modify the rented space in any way and any small alterations such as paint must be approved by the landlord.
Even with all of these benefits there still remains the social aspect of home ownership that is deeply imbedded in the American culture. Traditionally it has meant a great deal to American families to own their own homes and has been encouraged through our cultural beliefs and values. In fact this encouragement has taken the form of various political policies throughout history including those aimed at tax relief to homeowners as well as efforts to assist first time homeowners with lower mortgage interest rates. Further, owning ones own property or piece of land is the cornerstone on which our countries democracy was built therefore constituting the “American Dream.” It is also believed that home ownership should be encourage because owners take greater responsibility for their families, the communities in which they live, and they seek opportunities to provide better environments for their children (White, 1997).
Home ownership has been described as a force of social stabilization. Research has shown that home owners have an increased sense of community well-being and often advocate for better schools, decreased crime, and neighborhood improvements and upkeep (White, 1997). This is partially due to the fact that homeowners have a greater financial stake in their communities and neighborhoods as a direct result of the large investment of wealth in their home.
It is also believed that homeownership provides individuals with opportunities to learn skills that can be transferable into daily living. Home owners often experience scenarios in which their home requires repairs and they can either learn to make small repairs effectively or they must learn to identify and retain appropriate contractors to do so (White, 1997).
These experiences at being good home managers can increase interpersonal skills that can be applied to employment scenarios as well as interactions in the home environment.
There are also some issues that are specific to rental housing that are not experienced by home owners such as leasing costs, the landlords continual need to advertise, and a loss of revenue for the landlord if vacancies occur (Shelton, 1968). Overall maintenance costs can also be greater for a rental due to the turnover associated with rentals including greater wear and tear.
While many opponents of home ownership have pointed to the risks associated with owning a home, they have failed to point out that renting is also a risky endeavor. While owning a home introduces an asset price risk, it safeguards against fluctuations in housing costs. Further, the risk of home ownership decreases with the family or individuals tenure in the home this is not the case with renting where the risk does not decrease with longevity in a residence.
In many cases the debate comes down to the cost of living and financial trends at a particular point in time in a particular area of the country. If an individual or family resides in an area where the real estate market is quite expensive then the cost of renting will be more physically sound, however, in markets where real estate is affordable and within a familys means then the benefits to home ownership far outweigh the overall risks encountered.
Kemeny, J. (1978). Forms of tenure and social structure: A comparison of owning and renting. The British Journal of Sociology, 29(1), 41-56.
Leonhardt, D. (2005, September 25). Is it better to buy or rent? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com
Shelton, J.P. (1968). The cost of renting vs. owning a home. Land Economics, 44(1), 59-72.
White, R.K. (1997)..