Do you own a home?

For millions of American working families throughout our history, owning a home has come to symbolize the realization of the American Dream. [Bill Clinton, May 1995 National Homeownership Strategy]

Now, before you give me the textbook answer, hear this:

Mortimer J. Adler said in his book, “How To Mark a Book” that there are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it…But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes ONLY when you have made it a part of yourself. Although Adler was describing ownership of a book, I found it to be applicable to anything we purchase, especially purchasing a home.

Most of you who are homeowners would answer this question based upon a financial obligation. You know, the fact you pay the mortgage every month and property taxes every year.

I’m even sure your conclusion to that answer began with a realtor. She found a few homes for you to view. You found the house of your dreams and placed an offer.

Sounds about right so far?

Fast-forward, it’s the day of closing, you sign a stack of papers and were handed a set of keys to what is now your new home! You, then, call friends, family members, and even, post a picture in front of the house for social media. Hashtag #newhomeowner. You planned a housewarming party and shouted to the top of your lungs, “Mama, we made it!” You accomplished the American Dream.

Now with all that excitement, I’d like to challenge what you’re thinking. After everything was said and done, do you think you own your home?

To say you truly own something requires a personal connection to that which you purchased. As Adler stated, “…make it a part of yourself”. Perhaps, you think I’m eluding to hanging family pictures up on the wall and adding your style to the room. What I’m saying is, that to own your home you have to connect with everything about it, including its surroundings.

When you purchased that house, you, also, purchased that neighborhood. Your neighbors are a part of your investment. If it were me, I’d want to get the most out of my money. So allow me to challenge you to do the same. Greet your neighbor! Learn their first name! Establish a friendship or mutual respect! Then, my friend, you can officially say you OWN your home and became a person who accomplished the American Dream.