Over the years as a military family, we have moved numerous times.  We have rented apartments and duplexes, lived on post, and owned homes.  We have converted our primary homes into rentals, taking us from militaHome-Happy-Home-1-size-3ry homeowners to investors, and we have managed them personally, making us landlords.  I have been the general manager of a large hotel, worked for military housing, and have since become a licensed real estate agent.  So I got to thinking, (watch out!  It can be dangerous when I get to thinking… ha!), based on all of our personal experience, and experience with all the people I have been in contact with over the years, are homeowners happier?  What I found surprising is that there have been some actual studies done and data collected with the same question in mind.

If we go back to a previous blog post of mine, Which Realtor is Right For You?, I speak of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The foundation of the pyramid includes physiological requirements like breathing, food, water, sleep and shelter.  The pyramid theorizes that the next level of human needs include bodily safety, health, and the security of property.  Having a place to call home is one of the most important motivators of human behavior.  So why do we decorate our homes for holidays?  Why do we mow our lawns and maintain our landscaping?  Why do we clean and tidy our homes before we have visitors?  Why do we often ask new acquaintances where they are from originally?  It is plausible to think that it is because we identify ourselves with the place that we call home.  Our home is an extension of who we are; an important display of our personality and identity.

In 2013, Fannie Mae conducted a National Housing Survey (click to see the survey results in their entirety).  Renters and homeowners rated their experiences on the following scale:  very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, and very negative.  There was a significant disparity in the results.  71% of homeowners rated their experience as very positive, while only 34% of renters felt the same way.  For renters ages 18-34, 57% would actually prefer owning a home, only 13% prefer renting, and about 30% have a mixed preference.  Interesting!

According to the survey, the top reasons to rent were:

  • Living within a budget (57%)
  • Less stress (52%)
  • Best decision given the current economic climate (50%)

On the other hand, the top reasons given for owning were:

  • Control over living space (84%)
  • Privacy and security (80%)
  • A good place for family and to raise children (78%)
  • Best investment plan (78%)
  • A nicer home (71%)
  • Building wealth (70%)
  • Saving for retirement (69%)
  • Being engaged in the community (64%)

According to the National Association of Realtors Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers, the top motivator for buying a home was simply the desire to own, closely followed by the desire for a larger home, a job related move, change in family situation, and affordability of owning versus renting.

Now we are getting to the good stuff!  Did you know that there was a study on the social benefits of homeownership?  Yeah, me neither until my pondering got the best of me and I found some incredibly interesting data.  As stated in the 2012 Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, homeowners move less frequently.  Now, being a military family, I immediately thought to myself, “We don’t really have control over how often we move.”  But yet, we do.  How many military families have you known stationed at one installation for several years who move every time their lease is up or a deployment rolls around?  I can think of a few.  We’ve done it a few times ourselves.  We’ve gone from on post housing, then moved closer to family during a deployment, then back to on post housing again.  Would we have done the same if we had been more invested in our residence?  Likewise I have worked with families who have gone from on post, to rentals off post, and back to post housing again all within a few short months.  The bottom line is, the research shows, homeowners move less frequently, they are more invested in their neighborhoods, and they tend to build more long term friendships.

Additionally, there is the belief that crime rates may be lower in neighborhoods where the residents are predominantly homeowners.  If you think about it, it makes total sense.  Homeowners who may move less frequently, are more invested in their neighborhoods, who have formed longer lasting friendships may be more likely to notice someone who doesn’t belong.  They may be more likely to look out for the homes in the vicinity and report something that doesn’t look right.  They may also communicate more regularly with neighbors and develop formal or informal neighborhood patrols and watches.

Homeowners also tend to give more back to their communities as far as volunteering, church involvement, and through participation in community organizations.  Just a little side note… Have you ever been having a crappy day and then randomly decided to do something nice for someone?  Maybe you paid for the person behind you in line at Starbucks, or told a stranger that you love her outfit.  It makes you feel better, right?!  If we put positivity out into the world, that tends to be what we attract back into our lives.  I had not even begun to think of the effect that owning a home has on parents that might then in turn effect their children.

As I read through the Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, I was pretty astounded by the findings.  What typically happens with children when you move frequently?  They tend to change schools more often.  Makes sense, right?  Data has shown that frequent school changes can have negative impacts on children and families.  Because homeowners tend to move less frequently, their children tend to change schools less often as well.  For younger children this has been shown to mean fewer behavioral problems, and higher scores in math and reading.  For older children, the effects can be life-LONG and life-changing.  They tend to have higher graduation rates and they have lower teenage pregnancy rates!  Ultimately the numbers show that if you own your home, your children are more likely to own their homes as well.

So you may be thinking, “well there is no way we could afford to own a home on one income”.  That is a self-limiting belief.  You may be surprised by what you are eligible for.  What may surprise you even more are the benefits of homeownership to low-income families.  The families living at or below the poverty line who became recent homeowners tend to report a higher level of perceived control over their lives which ultimately lead to higher life satisfaction, and higher self-esteem.  Homeownership was directly correlated with higher educational achievements, higher earnings, and lower welfare dependence rates.  Is it all some strange coincidence?  I don’t think so.

The results were not limited to the United States.  Based on findings in the UK by the Office of National Statistics Survey, 80% of folks who owned their homes reported a medium to high level of satisfaction, while 68% of renters reported the same.  Canada reports one of the highest rates of homeownership worldwide with 70% of their citizens being homeowners.  The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), worked with Habitat for Humanity on a study that corresponded with the United States’ Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing study and reported that 86% of the respondents said their lives had improved since owning their homes.  Among many things, they reported improved health, increased happiness with work and school, and 58% said their finances were better.

Healthy Happy HomeNow I do believe the numbers don’t lie, but don’t get upset, I’m not saying their aren’t happy renters too.  Some of us have the ability to make the most of any circumstance that comes our way.  I simply leave you with my ponderings… Is it possible that homeownership can contribute to happiness?

If you have questions or need real estate assistance in the Clarksville, Tennessee or Fort Campbell, Kentucky area or know anyone who does, call me today at (931) 436-6765 or submit your information below.

© Ariel Anderson and https://buyorsellclarksvilletennesseehomes.wordpress.com, 2013.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ariel Anderson and https://buyorsellclarksvilletennesseehomes.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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