Americans’ Perspective on Home Ownership Shifts
May 29, 2012
Home ownership is getting more emotional than it used to be. A new survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate finds that Americans are increasingly saying that the real value of home ownership is emotional, not financial. That marks a stark contrast from Americans’ perspectives on home ownership during the housing boom, in which they mostly viewed it as a financial venture.
“Instead of taking things for granted, people are protective of their jobs, homes, and futures,” says Robi Ludwig, a psychologist in New York who was involved in the study. “And now that we’re picking up the pieces [after the financial crisis], we’re seeing a psychological shift. Instead of looking at homes through the eyes of an economist, we’re realizing that a home doesn’t solely equate to financial return or measure only to a mortgage amount. Instead the home is the emotional center of our lives, and it remains a critical component of who we are.”
The more emotional ties to home ownership are causing Americans to get more practical in their home buying, the survey finds. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed say that people should no longer stretch themselves financially just to get a bigger house.
“Americans now recognize that they don’t need the biggest, most ornate home on the block,” Ludwig says. “Rather, they can and should live within their means.”
Buyers today are more swayed by a home that they can easily afford and that reflects their personalities. Seventy-one percent of Americans surveyed said that a home is an expression of their identity.
“Our homes help to define who we are, partly because we have to ask ourselves a lot of really honest questions, including what we want in life and why,” Ludwig says. She says that a home serves as an expression of peoples’ personalities, down to the wall colors they choose and the family photos they display.
“It’s only been in the last few years that the conversation has shifted almost entirely to the financial aspect of home ownership,” says Jim Gillespie, CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. Gillespie adds that a more emotional perspective on home ownership will make owning a house a more central of the American Dream once again and will aid in the housing recovery.
The Coldwell Banker survey also found that 78 percent of owners say owning a home is one of their greatest life achievements. What’s more, 83 percent of renters say they plan to own a home one day.
Source: Coldwell Banker and “The American Dream Gets Another Facelift,” Time Magazine (May 15, 2012)
Updated: June 22, 2018