Is Owning A Home An Outdated Practice?
The American Dream
For generations children were taught that they should go to school, get a good education, get married, start a family and buy a home. It was the American dream. In many of those teachings a house with a white picket fence was advertised as the preferable home of choice. Everyone grew up with the dream of owning their own home......a place they could call their own. And for years without questioning the plan that was laid out before them generation after generation did just that. After all it was the thing to do. At least that's what they were told. Mom and dad did it so why wouldn't I? Who am I to break tradition? If it was good enough for them its certainly good enough for me right? Maybe. Maybe not.
Early 20th Century Construction Workers
There is very little doubt that society and the world have changed dramatically since home ownership was the popular thing to do. In the early agrarian days of America a person would simply acquire a parcel of land, build on it and the house was theirs free and clear unless they took out a loan against the property for building materials or some other expense. When America transitioned to the industrialized nation it is today homes were generally built in advance and then purchased afterward with the purchaser usually having to secure a loan to buy the house which meant they would have to pay off the loan in full before they owned it. In cities this became common practice. In those days families in general were more stable and less mobile. Once they set up house they tended to stay put. When they became employed by a company they usually stayed with that company for the duration of their career. In the last 30 to 50 years all of that has changed. Employees rarely stay with the same employer for the duration of their careers due to various reasons. Mergers, foreclosures, outsourcing and companies moving to different locations have all contributed to displacing workers. Many times workers are faced with the choice of relocating with a company or losing their job. If they are buying a home that decision becomes very difficult and complicated especially if a family is involved. Selling a house is difficult enough if you are remaining in the same city but its even more complex doing it from another state. So in these changing times we have to ask ourselves if home ownership is still practical.
Owning Versus Renting/Leasing
There are advantages to both owning a home or renting one. Everyone must decide what is best for them but in today's ever-changing, fluid work environment one should make careful consideration before tying themselves into a 20 or 30 year mortgage with interest rates that may change at the drop of a hat. The housing collapse of 2008 demonstrated one of the hazards of home ownership when the bottom fell out of the housing market and home values plummeted in free fall as thousands of home loans were foreclosed on. Much of that had to do with loans being approved for buyers who were not financially qualified for the loans they received but the point is it still points out one of the consequences of home ownership.
Another consequence of home ownership is maintenance costs. All repairs and improvements are the responsibility of the home owner. And in some cases the city where you reside may require the owner to make improvements or repairs if the property is deemed to not be up to the city code. A garage that is in disrepair can be cited as a nuisance requiring you to repair it or face being fined. If you have a cracked sidewalk that is a hazard to the mailman delivering your mail they can refuse to deliver it until you make sufficient repairs. Then there is the routine maintenance of mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, cleaning the gutters and eaves troughs, plumbing, electrical and so forth. Renters and leasers don't have to worry about these tasks because they are usually covered in the lease by the property owner. Also many lease payments are comparable with mortgage payments minus the hassle of possible maintenance or moving problems.
In the end whether to own or rent is a decision that has to be evaluated carefully. Everyone is not cut out to own a home. Others are built for it. Many things have to be considered before making the decision. What is your job stability? What can you better afford? Do you have the time to devote to a home? One thing to bare in mind is home ownership is a long-term proposition. Its kind of like the stock market in that to get your money's worth you have to stay with it for an extended period of time. Buying a home is not for short-timers and with the way things are today everyone may be a short-timer soon.