Monday, 2 November 2015

Guest Blog from Gemma Brian

The Social Benefits of Homeownership
Article by Gemma Brian

When people talk about the benefits of homeownership, they inevitably focus on the financial benefits of homeownership. The housing sector is vitally important to the economy and the financial benefits are easier to focus on because they are tangible, measurable, and it is generally easier to process facts and figures in this way. However home ownership also has substantial societal benefits: these benefits affect families, communities, and our country as a whole. It is because of these societal benefits, as well as because of the financial benefits, that so many policy makers here in Canada promote homeownership, and encourage this to be the ultimate long term goal for both families and young people. Here are just some of the social benefits of homeownerships, and the reasons that these benefits are so important: 

Homeownership Provides Stable Environments for Children

It is important that children are raised in environments of stability, and that they feel grounded and safe in their homes. Research has shown that having a secure family financial situation and housing tenure during both childhood and early adulthood has a huge impact on both an individual’s perceived health and sense of self. In addition to this, children raised in socioeconomically disadvantaged environments grow into adults who are less able to save money and therefore less able to purchase their own homes and provide a stable home environment for their own children.  By providing access to affordable homeownership to families from lower financial demographics, what we are actually doing is breaking this cycle and enabling families to provide stable environments in which to raise their children, in turn teaching them the importance of financial management and providing a stable home environment for their own children. Children living in owned homes show lower likeliness to succumb to teenage delinquency, are less likely to have teenage pregnancies, and obtain higher test scores throughout their school years. For the youngest members of our society, therefore, it is clear that homeownership is important for their social development.

Homeowners Are Less Likely to Be Victims of Crime

Research on the social benefits of home ownership shows time and again that homeowners are far less likely to be victims of household related crimes than home renters: this is thought to be because when you are a homeowner any crime committed in your home has a direct financial implication to you, meaning that homeowners are more likely to employ devices in their home that will deter crime. Joining their local neighbourhood watch program, ensuring that they have a high level of home insurance for extra protection should the worst happen, and fitting external home security systems, for example, will all help to deter crime in properties that are owned rather than rented.

Homeownership Improves Neighbourhoods

In much the same way that homeowners are less likely to be victims of crime, because they are more likely to take extra efforts to protect and secure their property, homeownership improves neighbourhoods because homeowners are more likely to focus on home maintenance and ensuring that the structural quality of housing in their neighbourhood is improved. Research has found that owner-occupied homes are significantly better maintained than renter-occupied properties: this is because home owners are more likely to take pride in their homes and want to protect the financial investment that they have made in purchasing their property. Of course, income will always impact the level of maintenance that a home owner is able to make to their property, but the desire to focus on maintenance will be stronger amongst those who own their own homes.                            

There are a myriad of other social benefits of home ownership, which is the reason why the desire to own one’s own property has been an integral part of the Canadian Dream for decades. As well as the financial implications of owning your own home, including the potential wealth gains to be had from selling your property under normal housing market conditions, you will also find that your family are happier, healthier, and will be better equipped to succeed in life as a result of owning their own home.

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