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Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over two decades of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. Shmuel provides a uniquely holistic approach to comprehensive real estate and financial matters that goes well beyond any single transaction. Shmuel is an award-winning financier recognized for maximizing the short-term and long-term objectives of his client. As a contributing writer to many local and regional newspapers and publications, his insights have been featured in the media for many topics, including mortgages, personal finance, appraisals, and real estate trends.

 

This Sunday was supposed to be a Sunday, like most others. A little work, a little relaxing, a little time at the community carnival, and hanging out with the family… Much to my chagrin, I received an early morning phone call from my sister to say that my Aunt had passed away in her sleep that night. About a year ago, my Aunt had suffered a minor heart-attack, but was able to fully recover without issue. While this was a complete shock for the family, it did come with a little forewarning – but none that is adequate in the least bit.

The intent of this article is not to memorialize my aunt, as the shock is still too fresh, and I will not do her justice. I went to pay a shiva call to the house, a house that I haven’t been to in years. We have family get-togethers often, but never at their home. My Aunt and Uncle were living in that house for close to four decades. The house was exactly the same as I remembered. Throughout my long visit at the shiva, I had many flashbacks of amazing childhood memories that I had growing up, while hanging out with my cousins in our youth. Literally, in every corner and crevice that I looked, a wonderful recollection popped into mind.

Their long-lasting ownership and pride in ownership got me to do a little research. If one does minimal exploration, there is much research on the importance of the “housing” sector on the economy, and the long-term financial benefits to individual homeowners. The economic benefits of the housing market and homeownership are vast and well-documented. I often write about the benefits of homeownership in different forms, be it, the tax benefits of mortgage interest, property tax deductions, and some closing costs. There are also the long term benefits, such as the building equity and wealth through home-appreciation and value increases.

What I didn’t realize fully until I did the full analysis was all of the documented social and psychological benefits that homeownership could bring. It’s easy to realize that homeownership offers tremendous freedom to create the living environment that you have always wanted. You can own whatever pets you want, make whatever changes to floors and carpeting you want, paint rooms whatever color you like, and do all the things that make a house your home – all without having to get prior approval of a landlord. But the non-financial benefits are much broader.

Last year the National Association of Realtors published a report entitled, “Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing” where they noted, “Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.” In their 19 page study, they detail many social, environmental, health, psychological, civil, communal benefits of owning a home and being part of a community. With the home purchase comes the pride of ownership and the sense of belonging in a community where one has a financial stake in the neighborhood.

A separate study by Rohe & Stegman found that people who became homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and higher perceived control over their lives. Another study by Lindblad & Quercia found that homeowners and children of homeowners are generally happier and healthier than non-owners, even after excluding factors such as income and education levels that are also associated with positive health outcomes and positively associated with homeownership. More recent studies have found that the wealth building effect of homeownership and the sense of control it provides to homeowners in a stable housing market affect homeowners’ mental and physical health in a significantly positive way. These are some of the many benefits of homeownership to keep in mind.

Perhaps homeowners are just “happier” for having achieved the so-called “American Dream” – a sense of pride and satisfaction of being able to have a place of their own to call “home.” Whatever the reason, whatever the benefit, we should always take the time to appreciate what we have and enjoy it with loved ones to its fullest.

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