Every spring since 1952, Realtors® across America have led their communities, townships and neighborhoods in a celebration of homeownership and private property rights. Known today as American Home Week, this year’s April 7-13 observance marks the 50th anniversary of this tribute to one of the cornerstones of democracy.

American Home Week is a celebration aimed at reminding citizens of their constitutional freedom to own private property. Throughout the designated week each April, Realtors® sponsor activities such as property improvement projects to aid the needy, essay contests centering on the theme of homeownership and special seminars on home-buying and home-selling trends.

“The heart of American Home Week has always been to remind Realtors® and citizens of their rights and responsibilities to work together in creating a positive community in which to live and work,” Martin Edwards Jr., president of the National Association of Realtors®, said. “It’s second nature for Realtors® to lead the way in neighborhood involvement, volunteerism and in giving back something to the communities where they make a living.

“Look around in any city or town, and more often than not you’ll find a Realtor® volunteering for the citywide clean-up day; a Realtor® who’s chairing the ‘Christmas in July’ project; a Realtor® who’s helping to run a shelter for battered women; a Realtor® who’s hosting the town’s ‘Recycling Day’; and a Realtor® who’s coaching the Little League team,” Edwards said.

American Home Week began in 1952 as the “Build America Better” program, with a focus on re-energizing run-down neighborhoods in urban areas. By 1954, the program gained wide recognition and was cited in the Municipal Yearbook of International City Managers as a major development in the field of housing conservation. In 1956, the program was renamed “Realtor® Week” to highlight the differences between Realtors® and non-members, as well as to encourage the involvement of Realtors® in civic, social and patriotic values of their communities.

In 1975, the name was changed to “Private Property Week” to emphasize every American’s right to own and transfer property. Finally, in 1986 the name was changed to American Home Week, reflecting the most popular perception of private property—the home.

“Realtors® are in the business of attracting new citizens to their communities,” Edwards said. “They really care about making their neighborhoods strong and safe and vibrant.”

In the wake of last year’s terrorist attacks on this country, Realtors® feel an even stronger commitment to the activities that American Home Week fosters. President Bush has called upon all Americans to work to improve their communities, and Edwards said the week of April 7-13 “is a fine time to step up to the plate.”

The activities of American Home Week highlight the role Realtors® play in making homeownership a reality for all people, no matter what their background. “It’s no accident that American Home Week falls in the middle of Fair Housing Month, a time when the country is reflecting on the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s call for equal housing opportunities for everyone,” said Edwards.

Realtors® know that increasing America’s homeownership base is not only good for families, but it’s good for the economy and communities, as well.

Because homeowners put down roots, they tend to participate in community affairs and the business of local government. That commitment to making the democratic process work leads to better local communities, said Edwards. NAR research indicates that homeowners are voters and that they volunteer their time for political and charitable causes more frequently than renters do. For homeowners, the value of their homes—the largest investment many of them will make in their lifetimes—creates an incentive to stay abreast of local government actions.

“In short, owning a home gives people greater reason to care—and that makes a huge difference,” Edwards said. NAR encourages consumers interested in participating in American Home Week activities in their area to contact their local board of Realtors® for information.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 800,000 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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