What's So Great About Home Ownership?

US policy is stacked against renters— for no good reason
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2008 8:45 AM CDT
Remax professional realtors preview a home for sale during a broker open house in Springfield, Ill., Thursday, May 16, 2008.    (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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(Newser) – “Owning a home lies at the heart of the American Dream,” George W. Bush once said, and US policy certainly seems to agree with him. Mortgage interest is tax deductible, and government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae provide cheap financing for home buyers. Why is that, asks Paul Krugman of the New York Times. Owning a home isn’t for everyone, so why should it be a policy goal?

There are real downsides to being a homeowner. Mortgages are financially risky propositions—just ask subprime borrowers. Owning a home also ties workers down, making them less likely to move even if their local job market goes sour. Homowners also tend to flock to the suburbs, where $4 gas can make commuting an expensive proposition. It’s time renters got a fair shake—and equal stake—in the “American Dream.”