I often speak with homeowners who’ve lived in their homes for 20, 30, 40 or even over 50 years and I always like to ask, “If you had the chance to go back in time and buy more houses, would you?”
Their answer – always immediate and with ironclad certainty – YES!
This to me speaks volumes about the enduring value of homeownership. It’s much more meaningful than the consumer sentiment surveys you see each month gauging consumer confidence in housing. If the nation’s veteran homeowners can still stand in their front lawns and unequivocally say they made the right decision and whose only remorse is not buying more property, then I’d say that’s the kind of consumer confidence other assets may only dream about.
Don’t be fooled by the sad stories of foreclosures or the owners who decided to walk away because they were underwater. These stories have nothing to do with the value we put on homeownership. These stories are often about people who were unlucky or got caught up in mortgages they couldn’t really afford, who lost their jobs or who were unprepared for a financial emergency.
Even through all of this, homeownership is still valued in this country. Do you think that homeowners who walk from their mortgages will never buy a house again? You’re dead wrong.
Do you think that marriages and babies and promotions will no longer lead to home purchases? You’re dead wrong. How do I know this? Because our veteran homeowners can look back through boom-and-bust cycles and still say with certainty that they made the right decision. Because even as the nightly news blasts stories about “plummeting” home values, our agents’ phones are ringing from customers eager to buy.
Housing is certainly an important market to our economy. But homes time and again prove that they are not simply commodities to be traded on Wall Street like stocks and bonds. They are not items on financial spreadsheets. They are homes – places where we create memories, live our lives, build our futures.
When we finally emerge from this lull and look back on the recovery years for answers, I have a feeling that more of us will say, “I wish I would’ve bought more houses before that market took off.” We won’t regret all the years spent building wealth in our homes.