A Brief History of Home Ownership
Conceptually, the idea of owning the land we live on—owning our homes—may not seem too foreign for most of us. For example, if we look at Earth’s diverse animal life we can see a consistent want of ownership of territory. Humankind first began it’s territorial quest in tribes, which tended to think of their homelands as their parental figures/places of origin. As people learned to farm, they learned which types of lands were desirable for growing different types of crops, but tended to keep their connection with the land. Private land ownership developed as communities grew larger and nobility tried to protect their power. Nobility could control the peasants living on their land and gain more wealth, profiting from their tenants’ work.
The history of the mortgage began in England around 1190. The law was relatively simple: it protected the creditor by allowing them to hold the title of the house until it was completely paid off, but also protected the debtor, allowing him to sell the home to someone more affluent who could pay off the rest of the debt if he could not. This allowed him to recover the money he put into it. The term “mortgage” comes from the words “mort,” which means “dead” and “gage,” which means to “forfeit something of value if debt is unpaid” in Latin. A short explanation of this is: the borrower must forfeit the property if the debt is unpaid, and the pledge to forfeit something of value is “dead” if the debt is paid.
When pioneers began moving to America, the idea of buying and owning land and houses became popular and common. Many settlers would purchase land and build a family home which would be home to many generations. The land they lived on would often be their means of support and sustenance as many grew their own food, raised their own animals, and cleared their land for wood. Excess resources were sold or traded in local markets.
In the 1900s, mortgages were widely popular and easy to attain in America, as long as a person was able to put down about 50% of the money and pay the rest of the house off in about five years. Owning one’s own home was something to be proud of in early America. Many settlers had come from countries where they hadn’t had the money or the opportunity to own the place they lived in and felt secure in.
The United States is still the land of opportunity in many ways, and while mortgages change with societal norms, owning one’s own home remains an American goal—part of the ever-changing American dream. Owning a home is still something to be proud of; it gives us a sense of security. It’s a place we’ll never be kicked out of or forced to move away from. It’s a place we can completely personalize—a sanctuary. Your home is the place where you can see family and friends, rest, or be peaceful in. There are many different ways Americans can buy homes these days, whether through a home loan deal or a lease option deal, so become a home owner and don’t let your dream die.