Forced Savings...Really? -

Part of the American Dream is to own a home. A home is a place to call your own; a place to raise your family and share with your friends. A home is a place to feel safe and secure. A home is a good investment?

In a recent report* by Beracha and Johnson, it is suggested that buying a home is the right thing to do but not necessarily for the reason that people expect. A home is, in many instances, the largest investment that homeowners have and it accounts for the majority of their net worth.

The report suggests that the self-imposed savings due to amortization has a significant contribution to a person's net worth. The premise was determined by comparing the net worth of buyers to renters over a 31 year period of time.

When the savings in rent and down payment were reinvested, renters had a greater net worth than buyers after each 8-year cycle by a margin of 91% to 9%. On the other hand, when the requirement to reinvest the savings was dropped and renters were allowed to spend the savings on consumption, the Buyers had a greater net worth 84% compared to 16% for renters.

Appreciation, tax savings and amortization contribute to lowering the cost of housing and help homeowners build equity. The forced savings due to amortization benefits the individuals who may not be disciplined enough to invest the savings otherwise. Regardless of which benefits apply in different situations, owning a home can be a satisfying investment both emotionally and financially.

*Factor Sensitivities in the Making of Buy vs. Rent Decisions: Do Homeowners Make the Right Decision for the Wrong Reason by Eli Berach and Ken J. Johnson of Florida International University writing for the Journal of Housing Research.