Home is where the heart is,
but let’s be honest the home is also perceived as the ticket to economic well-being, wealth and financial freedom. This split between the emotional and the economic means that for many homeowners, the home is not just where you raise a family or create a cosy haven, the home is where a massive amount of personal wealth and/or debt lives. For most homeowners, the home is the single biggest asset that will be owned. In addition, the cultural mindset – houses are a solid investment – is reinforced both by property investors who make investment their career, and the property market as house prices soar higher and higher.
Therefore, because so much of our focus is on the financial aspect of home ownership, it’s easy to think that owning a home is an economic, pragmatic and rational decision. The home is an asset, that provides you with a foothold in the property market – even our real estate agents use this in sales pitches encouraging us to “get your foot on the property ladder” – which reinforces the assumption that your home is a financial, not an emotional decision.
While your home does provide some financial security, there is also the fact that many of us never truly own our home, and the pressure of mortgage payments (amongst other home-related payments) may in fact be the cause of greater stress than the peace of mind we get from knowing we have a home to call our own. In other words, the home may not represent financial freedom, despite the commonly held perception that you will be better off owning a piece of real estate. Home ownership may also cause massive anxiety around the level of risk involved in sinking all your savings and available income into a house you can’t even begin to maintain or keep at the standard it was when bought.
Home is where the rapidly beating heart is.
If buying a home really was a pragmatic, economic decision then surely we would be smarter about assessing our costs up front? True pragmatism would weigh up the pros and cons of buying a home, factoring in the ongoing large costs of maintaining the home in order to keep, if not increase, the value of the asset.
Instead, we maintain the somewhat skewed perception that buying a home is predominantly governed by rational decision-making to purchase an investment that also offers you all the comforts of home. The asset that many of us can’t, don’t or won’t prioritise as an investment to value and continue to add value.
Home is where the heart beats but is it heard?
So I’m calling it. Our homes are cracked. There is something of a personality split going on – between the home as a safe shelter to feel comfortable and relaxed in, and the home that represents financial freedom/shackles. Owning a home has become an investment that determines a number of other decisions you will make in life, yet our thinking does not incorporate the deeply emotional component of homeownership, which is twofold – the psychological need we all have to belong somewhere and to have a place to call our own, and the emotional blinkers that govern the decisions we then make about “getting ahead”, “investing for our retirement” and making “smart financial decisions”. Forget the fact that we overlook decay, rot and rickety foundations to defend our rational decisions.
Let’s face it. Home is where the cracked and broken heart is.