Published in the New York Times

Re: “Owning a Home Isn’t Always a Virtue” (Economic View, July 14), which questioned incentives for homeownership:

Owning a home is one of the best ways to build financial security over the long term, providing equity accumulation and tax benefits. Homeownership strengthens communities, supports the economy and helps families build wealth — and for many people, it means gaining a foothold into the middle class. That is why owning a home has had longstanding government support.

Admittedly, lax lending and risky mortgages led to the housing market crash, but Americans have justly called for a return to safe, sensible underwriting standards. But the people have also spoken clearly and consistently about the importance of policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership, like the mortgage interest deduction.

Further, comparing homeownership rates in the United States to those in Switzerland, as the column did, is comparing apples to oranges; there are too many variables that influence those rates to make a fair comparison.

Lawrence Yun is chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®