Ownership improves our community - regardless of age

This blog article is a response to Rebecca Thorman's recent write-up on Modite.com.

Thorman recently wrote that, "Life and community, my friends, just isn’t the same. And nowhere is this so obvious, in-your-face and damning than the current alarm of the real estate market."

Not the same? I would have to agree. It's not the same, but would argue that it's not due to the real estate market decline. Life and community has changed dramatically with the increase in flow of information (email, cell phone, text, facebook, twitter, etc.) Community is all about how we interact in this crazy world. If anything our interactions have been increased by this heightened level of communication in the information age of the past 10-20 years.

She goes on, "Before the economy collapsed, young people were being locked out of the housing market by astronomical housing prices and by our predecessors, Generation X and the Baby Boomers, who grew even richer."

I don't believe that's entirely true. Many people (young, old, and in between) flooded the real estate market more than ever between 2000 and 2006 because a lot more people could finally qualify for a loan without much of anything. During that time there were loan programs that would lend money for a mortgage to someone with no income, no job, and no assets. Aha...young (or old) person with not much money says, "sweet, I can buy a house." Then all of a sudden they lost their job at XYZ company and had a difficult time paying their mortgage. But it's all good because they didn't really have any money (aka down payment) in the game anyway, so they just walked away. And foreclosure rates are higher now than a year ago. Big surprise.

Thorman goes on, "Now that the housing market has collapsed, it means more young people are content with not owning a home. But as the prevailing American sentiment goes, if you don’t own something, you don’t have a stake in the future of our country. Young people don’t buy that. Literally.

Ownership is an antiquated belief belonging to another generation. Gen Y abandons ownership. Instead, today’s young people subscribe to a culture of services and leasing."

Attention generation Y: you are young and will likely change your mind. A lot. In fact that's what a lot of young people do. And that's okay. Have you ever heard of a "young person" change their major in college? How about change where they live? What they do for work? How long does a typical high school dating relationship last? Not long.

Here's the point, when you're young you don't know any better, so you try a lot of different things. You're out there in the world just trying to make sense of everything. If you knew the value of staying with a particular thing (job, relationship, home, etc) long term, then you might stay put. Changing jobs might be good advice for someone that has no idea what they want to do, but switching constantly may not be the best advice. In fact, staying put might work out to your advantage because it's easier to move up within an organization when everyone else leaves.

"I'm tired of throwing money away on rent." That's what I hear most from the first time buyers that I work with to help them purchase a new home. Other's say, "I'm ready for a place that I can officially call my own and paint the walls whatever color I want." The government encourages home ownership with the new $8,000 tax credit. I wonder why?

Ownership is important. When you own something you care more. I remember a trip to California with a friend of mine to attend a wedding and he was beating the heck out of this "rental car". Hey renter, have you ever done that? Why is it that 1-owner used cars sell better? Landlords own real estate typically to make investment income, but pull their hair out when the tenant trashes the place (just ask anyone who owns a rental property by the University that has replaced the carpeting every year). Have you ever noticed that the projects at work or school really take off the best when one person (or group of people) really bundle together and take ownership of it? Compared to the projects when someone says, "it's not my job" or "I don't want that responsibility".

I would argue that local community thrives as more people care. And people care, when they own. Go out and buy something. Be willing to make the commitment to something big. Take ownership in that house, car, idea, job, or whatever else. Own it and run with it. That will improve the local community and the local economy, which in turn helps everyone.

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