, Volume 113, Issue 3, pp 785-805,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 29 Jun 2012

Why is Housing Always Satisfactory? A Study into the Impact of Preference and Experience on Housing Appreciation


This study focuses on residents’ perceptions of residential quality concerning 23 different dwelling aspects. Respondents were asked to indicate their appreciation of these dwelling aspects on a scale ranging from 0 (“extremely unattractive”) to 100 (“extremely attractive”). The influence of two potential factors on the appreciation of dwelling aspects is examined: (1) preference and (2) experience. It was hypothesized that residents who live according to their preferences give higher appreciation scores than residents who do not. This should even apply to low-quality housing. Furthermore, it was argued that residents appreciate their current housing situation more than residents who do not live in that particular housing situation. This effect should be independent of preference. The impact of both preference and of experience could be confirmed. The results also showed an interaction effect between preference and experience: the positive effect of experience on appreciation is larger in residents who live in a housing situation that they do not prefer. This result would be expected if the impact of experience works to decrease the ‘gap’ in residential satisfaction due to the discrepancy between what residents have and what they want. In conclusion, why is housing always satisfactory? In this paper, housing is satisfactory because the ‘gap’ between what residents want and what they have is small; residents seem to have realistic aspirations. Furthermore, residents appreciate what they already have, even if this is not what they prefer.