View of home ownership changing
Diana Dietz, e-PRO
May 25, 2012
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The vast majority of Americans say the recession has caused the country to rethink the reasons for owning a home, according to a new Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey.

The online survey conducted in April among more than 2,100 U.S. adults aged 18 and older found a clear consensus: Americans still want to own homes, but they are thinking more about emotional ties and less about investment.

Robi Ludwig, a New York-based psychotherapist who partnered with Coldwell Banker on the survey, says the real value in home ownership is emotional – not financial and respondents widely agreed.  

Nearly 90 percent of people in the survey said they bought more expensive homes than they should have and 86 percent agreed people are no longer willing to reach out for a bigger home.

“After any major fallout like a financial downturn, it’s natural to examine and sometimes alter the way we think about fundamental issues in our lives,” said Ludwig in a news release. “So it makes sense that this survey shows we are re-thinking what passed for conventional wisdom during the ‘boom years’. Instead of taking things for granted, people are protective of their jobs, homes and futures.”

The survey finds buyers are less concerned with looking for something they can easily afford and which reflects their personality and core values. In the survey, 71 percent said their home is an expression of their identity.

“And now that we’re picking up the pieces, we’re seeing a psychological shift,” added Ludwig. “Instead of looking at homes through the eyes of an economist, we’re realizing that a home doesn’t solely equate to financial return or measure only to a mortgage amount. Instead the home is the emotional center of our lives, and it remains a critical component of who we are.”

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 85 percent of Americans always dreamed of owning a home
  • 78 percent of homeowners say owning a home is one of their greatest achievements
  • 95 percent of Americans feel it’s important for their children to own a home someday
  • 93 percent of homeowners and 89 percent of renters feel homeownership is still part of the American dream.
  • 83 percent of renters say they want to own a home someday.

In the end, Ludwig said, the commitment of owning a home creates a strong emotional tie. “Homeownership is a commitment; it’s about being rooted, which is one of our human instincts,” she said. “I was encouraged to see that so many respondents recognize that commitment to a home, just like in a relationship, can often bring immense satisfaction.”