Intangible Benefits of Homeownership

I don’t think my radar is any more tweaked than usual, but I did pick up quite a few quotes in today’s which point to the American Dream of homeownership and the “intangible benefits” of same.

I have long said that you simply cannot put a number to quantify the intangible benefits of homeownership. When you live in your own home there is something that changes within you, there is a feeling which you simply can’t express with a number such as “4% increase in property value.”

My entire career as a mortgage professional has been spent helping people who think as I do, who “feel” it makes complete sense to own their own homes. These folks focus on the monthly payment—can they afford to own a home—then decide to move forward if that payment fits. They move forward regardless of the person sitting in the White House, regardless of interest rates or property values or what the newspapers say about it (“Buy NOW! Real estate always goes up!” or, “Worst time to buy real estate!”).

These folks know deep down inside there is something they will receive that you can’t put into numbers, and only rarely into words, that just makes it feel like you did the right thing when you put it all on the line to buy a home.

’nuff said from me, here are some quotes (with the links) from today’s

From “The Backyard In New York City-An Urban Oasis” (The article describes the joys and rather unusual circumstance of a backyard within the urban confines of New York City)— August 31, 2008

“”I wish they’d pass a law,’ said Rebecca Cole, a designer of high-end backyard, terrace and rooftop gardens, ‘that if you have outdoor space you have to put something on it because the rest of us want it.’”

“’One of the reasons we love it, it’s garden to garden,’” said Ms. Franklin

My Fave Quote from the article:
“At night, after putting their sons to bed, they set up a folding table to sip cocktails and grill by tiki candles and music on the radio while counting their blessings, as Mr. Pinn says: ‘A house, two kids, two cars and a lawn.’”

I don’t detect a single word about “ROI” (Return On Investment), the state of the economy and the effect on property values, or the mortgage meltdown of 2007. Nope, this is what the folks are talking about:

“They consulted neighbors who were also fixing up their yards. ‘We get together over drinks and talk about seeds,’ Mr. Pinn said. ‘It’s kind of an odd conversation for the city.’”

Instead of watching the value of his property ticking up or down:

“…weekends often find him pushing a manual mower back and forth across the baby lawn but he doesn’t mind. ‘It’s a little therapeutic,’ he said. ‘I get out there and do my thing. It kind of softens up the hard life of New York City.’”

Another article on reports on the unique penthouses being constructed atop an apartment building in Manhattan! The penthouses look like quaint little suburban tract homes. But the most interesting part of the story is the reaction of neighbors watching these mini-Manhattan-miracles make their way onto the (above) streetscape:

“Ms. Gavilanes found the penthouses alluring. ‘I would get a car,’ she said, ‘and put it out in the driveway. And then I’d add a white picket fence, and AstroTurf. Maybe have a golden retriever playing in the yard.’”

Even Jaded New Yorkers Are Intrigued By The Little Houses On The Roof. — August 31, 2008

I’d like to say, “Only in New York” but the fact is, these articles/comments all reflect the deep-seated understanding that there is something special about owning a home. That understanding isn’t unique to a bunch of New Yorkers, either. I’ve believed it for so long, I’ve forgotten just how long. And I’ve defended this intangible benefit vehemently, even during the “fantasy boom” when all the rage was “values going up, up, up,” and then later during the meltdown when all the pessimists said, “Don’t buy NOW. Wait ’til the prices drop.”

You can’t put a price on this stuff. Period.

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