Experts agree: Owning a home usually gives a boost to your personal finances. Most folks get to deduct the mortgage interest they pay from their federal income taxes. Paying down your mortgage is a form of enforced savings. And it’s likely that your home will appreciate in value as the years pass, giving you a solid financial platform from which to launch other investments or send your kids to college.
But there are also solid emotional benefits to homeownership, many of which are not recognized by prospective buyers because they’re considered too “touchy-feely” for some in the real estate community.
Still, they provide an important ancillary piece to the puzzle. Many home buyers are worried about buying the “wrong” home. That happens only when you focus solely on the numbers and not on how you feel about the home in question. True, buying a home requires consideration of your finances. But unless you look at it solely through green-lens glasses, a home is more than a financial investment. After all, you can’t relax in the backyard of your stock certificates.
Here are some things to think about:
Shelter. Buying a home is more than the sum of your mortgage payments. It’s the place where you live and raise your children. Often, home buyers forget the concept of shelter when they look for a home. And yet, providing our family with shelter is one of our most basic needs as human beings.
Home buyers often look for items that match their wish lists and reality checks (a good thing to do), but forget to stop and take in how the whole place feels. It’s a little like that old clichÃ©, you may be missing the forest for the trees. When you look for a home, you want to find a place that provides physical and emotional security. A place that meets your needs but that feels comfortable, whether you’re dressed to the nines or padding around in old bathroom slippers.
Pride of Ownership. One of the key differences between renting and owning is that no one is going to raise your rent next month, kick you out, or prohibit you from fixing up the place. If you choose to renovate or add on to your home, you reap the benefits — not the landlord. If you want black walls and mauve curtains, your aesthetic sensibilities can be satisfied — until you decide to sell the house and your listing broker tells you to repaint everything white.
Pride of ownership is what keeps us doing odd jobs around the house, from fixing doors, to mowing the lawn. We plant flowers to make our homes look good, and to satisfy our souls. It’s that puffed up feeling we get inside when we show off our homes, and the improvements we’ve made. It’s one of the best parts of being a homeowner.
Community. Another emotional benefit to homeownership is that it gives us the opportunity to sink roots into our community. Renters often feel, and are often seen as, transient, even if they’ve lived in the same place for many years. When you buy a home, you’re buying into a neighborhood. Part of being a good neighbor is making sure you take care of your property and do what you can to see the neighborhood improve. If that means fighting a proposed street widening or cleaning up an empty lot, so be it. The connections you’ll feel to your neighbors and your community are worth giving up a few weekends.
Family. Renters often rent one- and two-bedroom apartments in multi-unit buildings that don’t offer a whole lot of room for families to stretch out and grow. Purchasing a single-family house or townhouse gives children outdoor space in which to run and play. It also sets your family apart, and gives you physical and psychological room to develop your own identity as a single unit.
Privacy. Owning your own home also gives you enormous privacy. There’s no need to worry that the landlord will use his or her personal keys to enter your apartment on a personal whim. If you don’t want your neighbors peering in, you can put up a gate or landscape your property for additional privacy and security.
Finally, homeownership provides you with stability. If you know what you’ll be paying each month through the life of your fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll be able to budget and plan for other things you’ll want to do in your life. While real estate taxes may go up in some communities, the bulk of your expenses will remain stable and predictable.
Oct. 14, 1996.