Homeownership Myth: Why Not Everyone Should Be a Homeowner

Part of what has gotten the economy into such a mess is the belief that everyone should be a homeowner. Everyone from the government, to the mortgage brokers, to the banks, to the realtors and the homebuilders thinks that everyone in this country has the “right” and “duty” to own their own home. “It’s the American Dream!” they cry. While it’s true that property ownership is a right in the U.S., the truth that no one wants to put out there is that not everyone should or can afford to take advantage of that right.

Sure, owning a home is great, most of the time. Sometimes it stinks. I own a home and enjoy it. But I also didn’t mind living i


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14 Responses to Homeownership Myth: Why Not Everyone Should Be a Homeowner

  1. disneysteve says:

    I totally agree. Homeownership is NOT for everyone. Not everyone needs their own home. Not everyone wants their own home. And most importantly, not everyone can AFFORD their own home. Forcing people into homes has caused a lot of the current problems.

  2. Blame the 90s congress for believing homeownership was a born right. They passed legislation (signed by Clinton) that made it easier to do mortgages at every stage of the industry. When the tech bubble burst it was a flight to stability – real estate.

    This is why I don’t trust the government to set economic policy.

  3. HOAGOV says:

    You didn’t mention homeopwners associations, and the extra burdens of assessments and special assessments that don’t go away until you diw or move out. Or, the fact that most new homes are in HOAs, mandated by the municipality. However, given the above, HOAs do not want renters!

  4. My cousin used to broker subprime mortgages for people with credit scores around 550. I didn’t know how bad that was until my mom, who declared bankruptcy 5 years ago (so it’s still on her report) checked her score last year for the first time: 620. I took that as a benchmark for how bad the subprime market was. And for the record, my bankrupt-but-otherwise-responsible mom has no desire to become a homeowner. She can’t bear the thought of coughing up $10K for a roof repair or a new heating unit.

    Me? I live in Manhattan – a severely overpriced market. It would cost me twice as much to live where I do if I owned, and what I pay is already sickening.

  5. baselle says:

    The thing that I got me was the “cult” of the homeowner. Everyone saying the same thing, zombie-like: You must own a home, homeowners “save” money, you are throwing your money away on rent. Please.

  6. Crow says:

    I agree, it’s not for everyone. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make though is renting a horrid cheap dump to “save up for a house.” Being in a desperately miserable home makes people buy prematurely, then they get stuck in a house that’s not right for them. If you can’t afford a house comfortably, move a lot, etc, these are all good reasons not to buy. Instead rend a decent place you can be happy in and get over the industry-spawned spin that there’s something defective about you if you’re not a homeowner. We also need to stop vilifying renters. Everyone from individuals, to credit card co’s etc, deem home owners more valuable citizens. Hogwash.

  7. Diane says:

    You are SO right! I happen to love owning a home – I’ve been in the same house for 25 years.

    I love gardening, I have kids & pets, so it’s best for me. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices over the years to afford it.

    But, even as a 50 yo female I don’t mind doing some repairs & maintenance myself. I can lay tile, paint, tape, float & texture sheetrock (house flooded once), etc. I mow & edge the lawn, trim the bushes. I LIKE being active and working around the house.

    Of course I have to find help or pay someone for things I can’t do myself – electrical work & plumbing, for instance.

    If you do not enjoy spending weekends working on the house & yard, keep renting – you’ll be happier that way!

  8. monicalker says:

    Jennifer raises a great point about understanding the motivation of people who buy homes. When my husband and I were moving to a new state every year for our jobs, we always rented houses. We had several people express surprise that we were ready to have children during that time. They kept saying “But you don’t own a house yet! That comes first.” As if millions of kids (both in America and around the world) aren’t raised in rented houses or apartments each year!!!! The bad news with homeownership first and then kids second is that when they destroy the house, you have to fix it yourself instead of calling the landlord!

  9. Joe Rivera says:

    Jennifer is 100% right on the button!
    I have lived in South Florida for 30 years and have enjoyed renting and owning and renting again. I just started my second career ( my first was hotel management)and totally agree (even as a Realtor) that owning is not always the best choice, financially speaking. It may come as a big surprise to other Realtors, that I will do my best, to provide the best advice, (according to all the financial information available) as to whether a potential client is better off renting (perhaps in a better community with all the amenities he would like to have)or own. In the short term, I may not earn a large commission, but I will know that I did “the right thing” for the client, and he or she, may still provide me with other potential buyers or sellers (or renters) in the future. Most important for me, is that I will be able to sleep good at night!!!

  10. Michael Harr says:

    Don’t forget that owning a home is also a net loss annually after paying for taxes, maintenance, insurance, etc. People thought real estate was such a big money maker, but the reality is that housing is always tied to income. It simply cannot outpace incomes over a long period-otherwise people simply cannot afford it.

    In pricey areas like Manhattan, there are many more with high net worths to offset ownership costs via a large cash down payment. This leads to escalation in pricing. The best places to look for real estate gains will always be in areas that attract and create high net worth individuals and families. I live in Kentucky…not so many HNW peeps around here and housing is stable and affordable. Frisco, Seattle, Chicago…not so much.

  11. Michelle says:

    Great article. Before the pricing really escalated I went out looking for things in my price range and found that I could not buy the type of condo I wished to live in for the money I had to spend. So I rent.
    And I’m so happy I did. I have a child now (didn’t when I was looking at housing) and it was great to be able to move into a neighborhood with a decent school and lots of amenities in walking distance. I wouldn’t have that in the areas I could have bought, or would have such a small condo we would be miserable.

  12. Gwen says:

    Yes, Jennifer brings up many good points. People have been brainwashed into believing they have to do certain things at certain times in their lives or else they are eccentric or a misfit of some sort. Home ownership is just one of these “thing”. Well, everyone is different and not everyone wants the responsibilities which go along with home ownership. There is nothing wrong with this, at least these people know what they want and they are not caving into peer pressure. Personally I am one of the most responsible people I know; however, I have little desire to own a home. I rent a little house with a large yard and a lot of privacy and all I have to do is write one check every month for the rent. If anything breaks I call the landlord, if I want to move all I have to do is give two months notice. At this point in my life I am not ready to give up this flexibility and simplicity and I may never be ready. If I rented forever I would be perfectly happy. However, I have a co-worker who has accused me of not wanting to grow up. When did owning a home mean you were more grown up than someone who rents? Utterly ridiculous! The ironic part is that this person is one of the most immature people I know and obviously has a very different method of measuring maturity than I do. In any case, it does not matter what anyone tells you, you know what is right for you. Home ownership is not a one size fits all sort of thing. For some home ownership is a great option. I have a friend who is very handy and loves to buy and fix up houses. For him, home ownership is the only way to go. So, do what is right for you and disregard the silly comments from people who do not know you and assume that you are just another American trying to keep up with the Jonses.

  13. Channe says:

    The biggest lie of the last century that has been shoved down the faces of Americans is that you are not an American until you buy a home – which is often overpriced and unnecessary. I’m 30, single, with a solid job and I have enough to buy a house/condo but when you actually crunch the numbers it doesn’t make sense to buy. I get everything I want with renting without the worry of selling if I have to move. Personally, I think more Americans renting will lead to a better economy because it will lower debt and increase spending money.

  14. CH says:

    I was told to purchase a home because my income kept rising and I needed something significant to offset this. After years of renting and falling for the “renter’s guilt trap” I purchased a condo in 2007 for $190k. Now I’m in debt and fighting a foreclosure due to a misunderstanding between myself and my loan company and I’m underwater by over $100k. I’ve never been more miserable my entire life. In my opinion, singles should never own a home. It’s too expensive for one income and this is my biggest regret to this day.

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