When I was a teenager in the 1960s and looking forward to moving out on my own, my dad’s advice was that, in the long run, owning a house was better than paying rent year after year. It was a good investment, he said.
What he meant by that was that if and when I might sell my future home, due to job transfer or eventual need to move into a care facility, I’d be able to sell for more than I had paid, thereby having a financial cushion to see me through life’s transitions.
What he didn’t mean was that I should get into snapping up properties, doing a few renovations, and making a nice profit. He didn’t mean I should become a landlord and jack up rents to the highest the market might allow. He didn’t mean I should own two or three or four properties and leave some sitting empty much of the time.
I don’t know if he foresaw the societal damage that would be done by today’s real estate practices where some folks get quite rich, but a whole bunch of folks find themselves unable to afford a place to live. It’s a sad picture.
I attended Kate White’s constituency meeting last week, and the entire group expressed anguish about the issues of homelessness and lack of affordable housing. There are actions governments can take to help, and I encourage our representatives to stay focused on solutions.
As well, we citizens need to examine our priorities. Are we more concerned about property values or about meeting basic human needs? Are we more interested in the luxury of owning our own vacation home or in the ability of others to survive? Do we dream of ourselves living in mansions, or are we satisfied with having enough? What’s more essential to happiness, having real estate or having a home?