The Importance of Home Ownership for Jamaicans
Property acquisition during slavery turned out to be singularly important in determining who continued to remain in the employ of the plantation post Emancipation. West Indian freedmen who already had a taste of property ownership were typically not enamored with long-term plantation employment. Transitioning into the 1900’s property ownership provided real and symbolic economic liberalization for many Jamaican families with their roots in the post emancipation experience.
Over one hundred years later not much has changed in the sense that property ownership perhaps remains the single most significant opportunity for families to break that vicious economic cycle. The prospect of home ownership though daunting became possible for many generations with the advent of the National Housing Trust. Post-independence many Jamaican families have pierced the class ceiling and have been able to successfully straddle class and economic barriers as the obstacles to home ownership became diminished as access to financing and affordable housing stock increased. The accumulation of wealth can reasonably become likely within one or two generations. Home ownership continues to be that important first step in any journey towards economic success for many reasons.
The ability to build generational wealth is contingent upon passing down assets. Without the ability to do so, each generation carries the responsibility of acquiring enough wealth to leave to their descendants. Passing down a home is just one way that families can begin to build wealth.
The most basic definition of wealth is the accumulation of assets. A home is an asset that can be used as a vehicle for building wealth and increasing your financial worth. Single women, in particular, are among the lowest when it comes to net worth. One way to close this gap is by investing in real estate. Consider your home as your first investment.
You can build equity (market value less mortgage owed) in your home, which gives you more financial options. With the sale of a home, the equity can be used to pay off debt, increase your savings, invest, or even buy a new home of greater value. Choosing to keep your home and letting it appreciate in value is also a means of increasing your net worth. If used correctly and managed responsibly, a home can be one of the greatest assets in wealth accumulation.
Every person should strive towards home ownership if it is their intention to improve the economic prospects of their family and generations to come. Focus on getting financial education. Join a credit union or a building society and start saving no matter how small. Meet with the National Housing Trust to determine your prospects for borrowing and what is required to qualify. With the advent of a national credit bureau it is also important for you to pay your bills on time and keep your debt relatively low so that your loan application will not be adversely impacted. Remain focused and with proper planning and guidance your goal of homeownership is achievable and will be life changing for you and generations to come.