Money Studies Articles and Resources

Home Ownership:
Could It Be In Your Future?

By Lois Vitt

Whether you are young, newly divorced or in transition, or a newcomer to America , you rightfully want full participation in the American Dream to own your own home. Still, renting might be the best choice (or only alternative) for you right now. In order to realize your dream of homeownership in the future, the time to set your goal and make your plan is now. Although this will require budgeting, saving, maintaining good credit, and timing, the rewards of planning for homeownership can be considerable.

If you have never owned a home before, take heart: All or nearly all of today's older homeowners were once the nation's renters. It is the American way to strive toward ownership of one's own home for the sake of privacy, independence, security and self-expression. Homeownership is also the starting point for accumulating wealth and enhancing your financial security. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, renters say their number one reason for saving is to buy a home. In addition, 85 % of us identify the first step toward "the good life" as "owning a home."

Historically, landowners have been the decision-makers and power-brokers in our nation. Until 1860, renters were not even allowed to vote! Unless you have good reason to remain a renter --- love of the carefree lifestyle and a good financial plan to steadily accumulate alternative investments to finance your retirement --- you should make plans now to become a homeowner as soon as possible. Build and follow a financial road map that leads you to the home you really want. Scrimp a little today to realize your dream tomorrow.

If that sounds easy, it's not. All major decisions, including our housing decisions, are fraught with emotional factors not often recognized. In making your housing decisions, you employ your personal housing value system, including all that you value about where and how you live. This system incorporates personal, social and tangible factors as well as financial perceptions that are not necessarily objective views. In addition, you have a housing history, made up of the values, wants and needs associated with every place you've ever called "home, and that also influences your decisions; left unexamined, it can mire you in the past and undermine your goals.

It is important that you begin to accumulate savings while you are renting. Begin observing the housing market also; market timing is important. Make decisions about the living arrangement you want in the short term and in retirement, and set these as goals to work toward. Modify your plan realistically through the years, and live up to it. Anchor your retirement planning with the home of your dreams, and save regularly to make your dreams come true. And, finally, learn all you can about your housing history and value system to that you can make the right decisions as your plan unfolds.