The Myth of Homeownership Lives On

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) just released finalized housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The goals are effective now through 2017 and support single-family and multi-family units. Both agencies will provide support for all housing types.

The assistance for both purchase and rental properties will go largely unchanged.

I am, of course, always happy when the federal government steps in to help low-income families afford housing. I am troubled, though, by the continued emphasis on purchasing a single-family home.  Yes, it can provide equity, but given the recent economic crisis (I consider 2008 recent because, although some experts say we are in the black many people -and governments -are still feeling the effects of the recession) I do not believe a home is a sound investment, especially for low-income families whose lives and jobs are often precarious. Owning a home can be a great opportunity, but only when a leaky roof, malfunctioning plumbing system or termite infestation is not financially crippling. The hundreds of thousands of homeowners who lost their property after the housing bubble’s burst did not do so because they did not earn enough to make their monthly mortgage payment -they did so because they could not afford their monthly mortgage payment and the disasters of life.

I do not profess to be an economist, and so perhaps my opinions are not valid. But from observation, I do not believe continual assistance by the government of single-family homeownership is prudent.

Unfortunately, owning a home may be the purview of the wealthy.

And even then, I tend to think of it as an almost unnessary luxury,

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I blogged on tax policy preferences for home ownership and the unexpected costs, including those sprung on my late husband and me, several years ago, http://bit.ly/RV9TKy

    Your post provides another instance of the same basic policy preference. Thanks for calling it to my attention.

    • aravitz12 says:

      The calamity you describe is exactly what I mean by unforeseen expenses. Many people can afford to pay their mortgage, but leaky pipes are beyond their reach. I didn’t know all that information about tax policy; now I am extra convinced homeownership should not be promoted (especially by government-backed entities) as a viable, sustainable and prudent option. Thank you for this information.

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