Homeownership: Overrated and Possibly Harmful
From "Rethinking Rent: Maybe We Should Stop Trying To Be a Nation of Homeowners" in today's Boston Globe
Despite the housing crisis, one deeply entrenched value remains sacrosanct: homeownership.
But a growing chorus of economists and housing experts say that this mind-set needs fundamental reform. Owning a home is not right for everyone, they say: In some ways it's overrated, and it can even have harmful effects for individuals and society. It is now glaringly clear that buying a home is a financial risk, not the surefire investment it is often perceived to be.
Widespread homeownership may also have a negative impact on the economy, because, among other reasons, displaced workers can't easily relocate to new jobs. And some of the alleged rewards of homeownership, such as greater self-esteem, health, and civic engagement, have been called into question by research. The government, critics argue, should focus on ensuring high-quality, affordable housing rather than promoting homeownership for its own sake.