COMMENTARY: Homeownership benefits extend beyond boundaries

Most Americans consider homeownership to be the single best long-term investment and a primary source of financial security, especially as home values continue to strengthen. Despite the economic rollercoaster during the recession, homeownership has endured as the foundation of the American Dream. For that reason, the home building industry is celebrating National Homeownership Month in June, as did Governor Markell in his proclamation recognizing June as Homeownership Month in Delaware.

Owning your home provides numerous benefits. It not only helps build financial strength and emotional wellbeing for you and your family, but it also leads to increased stability for the surrounding community.

We would like to take this opportunity to reinforce some of the many advantages homeownership can bring.

Financial Benefits: It’s nearly impossible to talk about homeownership without mentioning its most widely recognized benefit: financial fortitude.

Beyond the appreciation factor (home values were up 6.3 percent nationally in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015), the monetary advantages of owning a home become most evident around tax time.

American homeowners saw their tax bills trimmed by a total of more than $100 billion in 2014. Those who itemize their federal income tax deductions can deduct 100 percent of their mortgage interest payments on a first or second home, up to a maximum mortgage amount of $1 million. Other deductions include the interest paid on up to $100,000 of home equity loans, state and local real estate taxes, and any potential mortgage insurance premiums.

Sense of Community: Homeowners’ commitment to their community is often expressed through a higher level of civic participation —via volunteer programs, church and school activities, and property maintenance — resulting in a positive impact on their “social capital.”

Recent studies also have consistently shown homeowners are significantly less likely to become the victims of a crime. Stable neighborhoods with a predominant structure of homeownership consistently display stronger social ties among the residents. This generates added motivation to maintain a safe environment for themselves, their families and their neighbors.

Quality-of-life Enhancements: Above all else, having full control of one’s own home can be the most satisfying benefit. There’s an intangible sense of accomplishment that comes from being a homeowner. The freedom to personalize and make improvements to the home helps build equity in the home and increase satisfaction for the owner.

Delaware’s homeownership rate is at 71.26, higher than the 63.9 percent national average. We applaud Gov. Markell, the Delaware State Housing Authority and the members of the Delaware General Assembly for their betterment of homeownership as we recognize June as Homeownership Month in Delaware.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin Whittaker is the 2016 president of the Home Builders Association of Delaware.

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