The Life-Altering, Society-Shifting Effects of Homeownership

It’s fairly obvious that homeownership makes a huge difference in how people live their lives; no one else seems quite so happy to spend their Saturdays cleaning out their roof gutters. But those changes are can be transformative not just for the homeowners themselves, but for the places where they live. And it all starts with being in it for the long haul.

  • The most profound change comes from commitment to living in a specific place for a long time, and the level of commitment from U.S. homeowners is only growing; the length of homeowner tenure has doubled over the last two decades to an average of 13.2 years. People are digging in deeper, which may multiply the effects of homeownership.
  • Owning a home kickstarts the relentless drive for improvement and upkeep, not just of the home itself but of neighborhood and community. Research shows that homeowners are more likely to show up for planning hearings, to vote in county elections and donate to local candidates. Heightened civic and political engagement not only defines the lives of homeowners, but of entire towns and cities.
  • Owning a home also tends to make people more conservative, though not in the political sense. Being as deeply invested as they are, homeowners tend to want to keep things the way they are, and conserve the character of the places where they live. That can be a problem, as when homeowners block new housing. But it’s often more positive, as when neighbors band together to save a public park, or HOA’s ban institutional investors from gobbling up local housing stock.

The “homeowner effect” is real, and has been supercharged after two years of unprecedented real estate activity. Millions of people became homeowners for the first time, millions more moved to become homeowners someplace else, and the aspiration to own a home is perhaps greater than it has ever been. What remains to be seen is how homeownership will affect the new generations — millennials and Gen Z — who represent the fastest growing segment of buyers in the market, but bring a new set of values to the equation. Read more at The Atlantic: How Homeownership Changes You

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