Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On Homeownership

Homeownership is really turning into a hot topic. But it isn't just owning a home that is at issue here it is also the community you live in. Cities are just beginning to figure out that families are important contributers to growth. The sad thing is that most developers and city counsels don't seem to get it.

Owning your home, and I mean actually owning it by having a paid off mortgage and are keeping up with the property taxes, really means that your home, generally, can't be taken away from you on the whim of the economy, company or even a single person.

Mortgage payments tend to be a very large percentage of a family's expenses, typically near 30%. Paying off the mortgage means I get a the equivalent of a 30% raise, I'd like that. I'm sure you would too.

But something that drives me crazy is that communities aren't planned with families in mind. One of my nephews moved into a new development a few years ago and there still isn't a grocery store nearby. A thousand-odd families and no where within 5 miles to get food? How dumb is that. Sure there are spaces available to build but no one has yet. And the backyards are so small you can have a swing set or a porch or a garden but not really more then one.

You want a family friendly home, put a big window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where you can watch the children play while making dinner. In college the married student housing was great a group of apartments were all facing into the courtyard that had a swing-set and a sand box shaded by trees and a bit of open space and all the apartments could watch the children play. That was great. Now some neighborhoods have a park in the middle but no one can see it from inside their homes, useless.

Owning a home can be good but you really need to have a good plan at what you are trying to do there or it can really hurt you.

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