Amid a torrent of negative stories on housing, it is worth pointing out that housing has a function other than as an investment: namely, as a contributor to quality of life.
Fannie Mae, admittedly not an unbiased source, recently released a four-part survey on the attitudes of owning versus renting. Among the findings:
- 84% of homeowners with negative equity believe they are better off owning than renting.
- 80% of the general population, and 65% of renters, say they would prefer to live in a neighborhood where most people own.
- In responding to the question, “What is the best reason to buy a home?”, the most popular answer was for lifestyle considerations, not financial benefits.
- A large majority of owners believe they are better off owning a home, whereas renters are divided between owning and renting.
This is a useful reminder that not all buyers will be into the horse race of housing data that can sometimes preoccupy the news media.
Since lifestyle considerations are important to many prospective buyers, I’d be interested to hear from Yo readers whether they think it’s easy to get demographic information on each neighborhood — for example, the percentage of residents who are owners; the average commute; the number of families with children; the educational attainment of residents; and other characteristics that contribute to the character of a neighborhood.