The housing crisis in America has prompted a number of commentators to again examine what it means to own a home. A number of sources I have read recently have suggested there was a large shift regarding American homes toward the end of the 20th century: people saw homes less as places to live and have a good life and instead viewed a home as an important investment from which they could continuously generate profits.
A New York Times article makes this argument as well, saying “many real estate experts now believe that home ownership will never again yield rewards like those enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century, when houses not only provided shelter but also a plump nest egg.”
If this is true, it could have profound impacts on community life. Perhaps owners will stay in homes longer, spending more money on their current homes while also maintaining local social relationships for longer periods. Perhaps the housing sector of the economy (everything from manufacturers to developers to real estate agents) will decline in importance to other sectors.