June is National Home Ownership Month so what better time to give thought to what home ownership means to me, and to my clients.
In some of my clients' words:
"We raised our family here. The kids used to have so much fun in the back yard, digging forts, rigging up swings and playing for hours. Oh, I remember those days."
"Sunsets on the corner deck in the back yard, then moving to the front porch for that last peek of the sun and a glass of wine."
"We enjoyed making this our home for many years and the friendly neighbors and small-town atmosphere (also the deer and the many birds.)"
"The great room we built has always been our favorite area, looking out to the back yard and watching the birds, and squirrels that used to play in the white oak tree."
"Many great pool parties and barbecues-perfect for outdoor entertaining."
Those are some of the emotional benefits of owning a home; it's where one puts down roots to become part of the community, where children go to school and later become young adults, where one can build, remodel, paint and garden. The bird feeders can be hung, friends can visit. The place you know you can enjoy until you no longer wish to do so.
Then there are the financial benefits many home owners enjoy. With a fixed-rate mortgage, one has security that the cost won't go up over the years.In fact, as one makes that monthly mortgage payment, part of it is savings paying down the loan balance. As real estate appreciates, ones equity rises, creating financial opportunities to pay college expenses, make additional investments, and realize a secure retirement.
My own experience blends both the emotional and financial reasons why I enjoy being a home owner. My starter home was tiny. Once we had two little daughters, we outgrew it in a couple of years, but it made a fantastic rental home with the rent received equaling the mortgage payment of our larger replacement home. Easy-peasy transition. I stayed there for 35 years, updating, remodeling, landscaping, playing the piano at night, inviting friends over, hosting Brownie scout meetings, and enjoying the neighborhood children who would come to play with my girls. When rates dropped, I refinanced, taking some money out for college expenses and changing to a 15-year mortgage, with the net result only a couple hundred dollars a month more than the original mortgage. Those 15 years flew by and soon the home was ours, free and clear. How nice was that when it came time to sell!
Do I believe in the benefits of home ownership? Absolutely; I've been fortunate enough to experiences them first hand. Is it right for everyone? Probably not. Is it right for most? I believe so.