Homeownership has long been viewed as a critical marker in achieving the American Dream. We love our homes and neighborhoods, take pride in our green lawns and enjoy the security that homeownership has traditionally brought to us. But the current economic crunch has taken the joy out of homeownership for folks who have lost their homes in foreclosures and walkaways or found that their homes are worth less than they paid for them.
TIME Magazine's cover story on September 6, 2010, entitled "The Case Against Home Ownership," looks beneath the surface at the sometimes problematic, not-always-wise decision to buy a home or hold onto a home. The article by Barbara Kiviat asserts, "Homeownership may provide a sense of stability to families, but stability in today's economy isn't always a virtue. What families need in order to maintain income is the flexibility that homeownership works against."
It goes on to say, "...if there ever were a time to start weaning America off the idea that homeownership cures all our ills, now - after the worst housing crash in 75 years - would be it."
The article argues that housing is a drag on the economy and that "... easy lending stimulated by the cult of homeownership may have triggered the financial crisis and led directly to its biggest bailout, that of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
It may be a while before the housing market returns to something akin to normal - if normal means selling your home in a reasonable period of time and gaining an acceptable profit on the sale. For homeowners who need to accomplish these goals so they can move to another location - for a job, marriage, health concerns, retirement and family or personal issues - the outcome might be disappointing.
The upshot: rather than wait for a dramatic turnaround in housing prices and demand, homeowners who know they don't want to stay in their homes for the long haul might consider preparing their homes for sale now.
For retirees who are thinking about a move to a retirement community, it might be wise to make the decision, put your home on the market and move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community. At a CCRC like Air Force Village, your home maintenance and landscaping services are provided, real estate taxes are covered - and you are free to move from one independent residence to another or shift to assisted living or to skilled nursing without the stress and financial risk of having to wait and sell your home before you can do so.