It's no secret that investors (rental-housing buyers) are responsible for much of the housing-market gains we've experienced over the past couple years. This has prompted many pundits and commentators to opine that we are turning into a nation of renters.

We don't believe it because many polls (from Freddie Mac and others) show people overwhelming prefer to buy than to rent, so we are encouraged to see the rise in purchase-application activity, which recently hit a three-year high.

We also like the beneficial social aspect of owner-occupied buyers. Neighborhoods composed principally of buyers tend to be more stable, because a neighborhood of owners instills a sense of community. If there are problems, neighbors are more willing to band together to seek a solution. Renters, in contrast, tend to be more transitory, and more prone to leave, so problems are more prone to fester.

Property upkeep is another benefit. Neighborhoods of renters have less tendency to maintain their home and the surroundings. After all, it's not their property. In addition, because the landlord is frequently absent, there is no one around to pick up the slack should renters become negligent in upkeep.

This isn't to bash renters or landlords, but we think it's beneficial to property values and to community cohesiveness to see a pick up in owner-occupied activity.

  Courtesy of Jessica Regan.

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