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Millennials Buy into Homeownership
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Young Americans continue to put off homeownership, and that isn’t good for anyone.
According to USA Today, homeownership for Americans age 35 and under declined to 36.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014, down from 36.8 percent in 2013. The percentage is the lowest on record since the U.S. Census began tabulating home ownership in 1982.
Why the decline?
The job market is rough and many millennials with college degrees are underemployed. Sizable college loan payments are a factor. And though interest rates are at historic lows, new legislation following the 2008 economic collapse has made it tougher to qualify for a loan.
This is not good, because few things are better for individuals or their country than owning a home.
I bought my first house when I was 35, and boy, was it a fixer-upper. Having just started a freelance writing business, the place was all I could afford. It needed a total renovation.
I put my friends, family and self through hell getting the place move-in ready. We painted walls, laid floors, pulled down wallpaper, put up wallpaper.
The bathroom renovation nearly killed me. We tore down the old tile, then put up wallpaper and a tub surround. We repainted and put down a new floor. All we had to do to was reinstall the commode. And that is when the torture began.
You see, both bolts that secured the toilet to the floor had broken. I had to buy new bolts and a kit that allowed them to be attached. My father spent an hour getting the bolts in order. When we attempted to reattach the commode to the bolts, they were too short.
“Son of a ... !” said my father.
It took several trips to the hardware store to get the daggone thing working. The only thing that flowed freely were the curse words that came pouring out of my mouth.
Once some key renovation projects were in order and I could move into the house, I figured the worst was behind me. It wasn’t.
One night, I was awakened by a loud scratching noise inside the wall next to my bed. I discovered three mice had taken over my house. I set traps, put out poison and even rigged up an electronic device that was supposed to drive them away. It took weeks to get rid of the freeloaders.
Then there was the battle with the septic tank. I hired a fellow to dig it up so I could attach an access pipe to it for routine maintenance. I had to go to a wedding that day and I told the fellow to leave the lid in place - under no circumstances should he attempt to lift it.
The moron lifted it, breaking it in two. I had to purchase a replacement lid but the only one available was much larger. To make room for it, I had to straddle an open septic tank for three days while digging out the ground by hand - the most miserable three days of my life.
The point is, homeownership is good for individuals and society. It makes individuals realize how incredibly hard it is to keep a house in good order. With so many things going so frequently wrong, an individual is more likely to save for a rainy day - and spend that money on items such as new air conditioning units, which pumps money into the economy.
Homeownership makes a person grumpy and practical. Homeowners are less prone to vote for silver-tongued politicians who promise more government spending that will require higher taxes.
So, I hope the economy improves - so that millennials will be able to buy their first homes.
Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at