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NAR’s Latest Ad Campaign: The Actual Research

There are many questioning the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest television ad espousing the benefits of homeownership. The questions seem to fall into three categories:

  1. Should NAR even be running ads for its membership?
  2. If yes, is this ad appropriate from a branding/messaging standpoint?
  3. Are the claims in the ad backed up by actual research?

I have no desire to take on the first two questions. I will leave that up to people far better qualified than I am on:

  • Determining members’ feelings (here and here) and
  • What is good branding? (here and here)

However, I believe I can shed some light on the last question: Are the claims in the ad backed up by research? Let’s take a look.

NAR has issued a paper, Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, which cites the research papers used to justify their positions on a plethora of benefits derived from homeownership. In the ad itself, they concentrate on two of these benefits: the community and the children.


The ad claims that the strength of a community is, in many ways, impacted by homeownership.

Research supporting the NAR position

This assertion is espoused in many research papers. Two research papers that are readily available on line at no cost are:

Homeownership and Neighborhood Stability

Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens

Research questioning the NAR position

I know of no research that asserts that homeownership does anything to negatively impact a community. If anyone reading this post knows of any such research, please bring it to my attention and I will report on it.


The ad claims that children of homeowners have higher self esteem and get better grades in school.

Research supporting the NAR position

This assertion is detailed in many research papers. Here are two research papers that are readily available on line at no cost:

Measuring the Benefits of Homeowning: Effects on Children

The Impact of Homeownership on Child Outcomes

Research questioning the NAR position 

The best rebuttal to the papers above comes in a policy brief from The Center for Housing Policy which cites research studies on page six. Here is a link to the brief:

Foundation for Success? A Review of New Research on the Effects of Homeownership on Children

I hope having access to the actual research helps the discussion.

Two things…

To all the conspiracy theorists out there, NAR had NOTHING to do with me posting this information. I am not taking sides in the debate. I am doing what I always do – giving access to the research that frames the debate.

If you want to debate the findings of any of the above research, please don’t do it here. Please contact the author, the institution or the company that issued the research. I did none of the research. Therefore, I am not qualified to defend it.

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7 replies
  1. Eric Hempler
    Eric Hempler says:

    According to NAR’s logic if the parents own a home their children will have higher self esteem and test scores…what a bunch of BS. Kids will be confident and have higher self esteem from a strong family support group, not because they live in a house their parents own versus a rental.

    NAR’s time making commercials should be focused on educating consumers on why they want to use a Realtor and how a Realtor can help them with the purchase and/or sale of a home

    It’s no wonder consumers don’t actually know what we can do for them.

    • Steve
      Steve says:


      Regarding the children, it is not NAR but numerous academic studies that have found that homeownership impacts children (a few of the studies are linked in my post).

      As far as what NAR should advertise, those discussions are being held at other online venues (also linked above).

  2. Steve
    Steve says:

    I realize some are looking for more current studies. The purpose of this post was to share some of the studies NAR used to substantiate their claims in the ad being debated. That being said, the most current data we know of is cited in the policy brief from the Center for Housing Policy which is linked above.

  3. Ruthmarie
    Ruthmarie says:

    I have to be candid…this nonsense about children is anecdotal at best. By analogy – we have “school district wars” going on in my community. Everyone wants a school systems like Scarsdale. Banner system – SUPER HIGH test scores. 95% of the population has to be dragged kicking and screaming to a “lesser district” even though it is plainly obvious that they can’t possibly afford one of the banner districts in a “money town”. As if academic achievement happens by osmosis – simply by being in one of these districts. HOGWASH.

    Its the money honey. The people living in these areas are often richer than God. They throw the full weight of that wealth at their children’s education given them every leg up that they possibly can. Of course they score high! They’ve been in test prep for the SAT’s since Kindergarten. The system is gamed. But all the money in the world will not make someone of average intelligence smarter. By the same token, a great school district in a more diverse school district can offer just as much and more to an ambitious child (yes, some of it has to come from the kid) and parents who support their education.

    But the crazy notion that its home ownership that makes kids more confident is nonsense. Generally home owners are wealthier than renters. Renters have less money to throw at their child’s education. This is a ridiculous argument based on sloppy research leading to equally sloppy conclusions.

    If this is how NAR is helping to brand me – I want my money back.

    • Steve Harney
      Steve Harney says:

      Good points! However, I wouldn’t quickly dismiss the research of professionals from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan and Harvard University.


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