If like thousands of people throughout the Greater Toronto Area you have worked with a REALTOR® in recent years, you probably have an appreciation of the many variables that can occur in a transaction.
While working in the real estate profession demands a considerable knowledge base, throughout my 30 years as a REALTOR® I have found that one of the most important aspects of the job has remained the same: the simple act of bringing people together. It is immensely gratifying to see the enthusiasm in buyers’ eyes as they envision their new lifestyle and the sense of achievement that sellers experience when an agreement is reached.
It has been said that when people come together we can accomplish great things and this extends beyond the context of a real estate transaction to the communities that each of us calls home.
According to a 2012 study by Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area, homeowners play an important role in strengthening communities throughout our city. The organization, which develops affordable housing communities throughout the GTA, undertook the study in 2012 in order to gauge the experiences of people transitioning from rental housing to home ownership, and a number of significant findings were reported.
Homeowners noted improved health, better academic scores among their children, and even increased recycling efforts. Equally notable however were the study’s findings regarding community involvement. Half of respondents reported feeling safer walking outside their homes and 72 per cent of those surveyed reported being friendly with five or more neighbours - a 25 per cent increase. Connecting with others in the community even applied to the youngest members of the household, with 81 per cent of respondents reporting an improvement in their children’s social life. Another finding suggests these homeowners are likely to deepen their engagement in the community in the long term, with 93 per cent indicating they don’t plan to move for a very long time, or never at all.
A report published in the same year by the National Association of REALTORS® in the United States illustrates similar findings. It indicated that since homeowners tend to remain in their homes longer, their residential stability lends itself to home improvement efforts and civic participation, showing that homeownership builds strong communities.
One of the many reasons homeownership is vital to our city’s future is that it gives people the confidence to offer a hand up to others, generating a cascade of prosperity. The Habitat for Humanity GTA report findings support this theory, indicating that 66 per cent of respondents feel hugely better about themselves as homeowners and showing a 135 per cent increase in respondents extending invitations to visitors.
In the interest of your family’s wellbeing and your financial future it’s wise to make the transition to home ownership at the earliest opportunity.
TREB President's Column as it appears every Friday in the Toronto Sun's Resale Homes and Condos section.