A recent press release from the U.S. Census Bureau points out an alarming trend: people are abandoning home ownership. Only 63.7 percent of Americans own their own homes, the lowest percentage since 1993. In fact, home ownership levels have steadily declined for many years, with the percentage of home owners in the U.S. about to reach the same level as in 1965.
What I find puzzling is that lenders in 1965 required a higher down payment and lower debt than they do now.
Understanding that home ownership is one of the most effective strategies for building wealth and achieving long-term financial security, it’s a definite cause for concern to see Americans leaving the idea behind. After all, what is more often associated with our country than the adage about the “American dream of home ownership?”
The U.S. has enjoyed high levels of home ownership compared with other countries, and this has been a substantial contributor to the wealth of our nation. In short, people who own their own homes have stronger community ties and a vested interest in making a positive contribution to society.
With a robust middle class of home owners, we secured our status as a leader on the world stage. Our neighborhoods are safe, our nation is strong, and our economy is stable, for the most part. This is partially due to the substantial number of home owners. It’s a huge issue to see home ownership levels on the decline.
Rents and home prices have been increasing but income levels have been stagnant for a decade. Where will everyone live if rents continue to rise? We are living in explosive times and all of these factors may explain the unrest in our cities.
Interest rates are still near historic lows and lenders have become more flexible in their requirements. Also, there is currently an extreme amount of political pressure being placed on the FHA and other government-sponsored entities to loosen their standards.
With an understanding of the value of home ownership in mind, I have to ask the question: Why are people opting to rent in favor of purchasing a home? Shelter is one of life’s basic needs, plus there are many low down-payment options available for borrowers right now. Yes, the liquidity of real estate is often cited as a disadvantage; however, I would offer that a home can always be rented out or sold if the circumstances of life should change.
It is much smarter to pay a mortgage and make inroads to a better life than it is to help a landlord achieve a higher standard of living by throwing money away in the form of rent each month, at least in my mind. Even at an extremely conservative estimate – $500 for a room in someone’s house or a studio –the result is $6,000 a year that could have been used to secure a brighter financial future.
For a free, no-obligation consultation about your buying power, contact me at the number below.
Patrick Stoy has 16 years of mortgage lending experience. Stoy is CEO of Wilmington-based Market Consulting Mortgage, which he started in 2005 with a mission to build lifelong customer relationships by providing real value. To learn more about Marketing Consulting Mortgage, visit www.macmtg.com. Stoy can be reached at [email protected] or 910-509-7105.