In a recent conversation with a college friend, we talked about how keeping up with a home takes a lot of time. This reminded me of a quote from William Levitt, a member of the famous family who built the Levittowns:
He [William Levitt] was a prime facilitator of the American Dream in its cold war formulation. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a communist,” he once said. “He has too much to do.”
So the key to fighting the Cold War through homeownership was not about owning private property; it was about keeping men (and women?) busy taking care of their homes so they can’t get involved in causes like communism.
The trick is that people have to want to and be able to put the time, effort, and money into homes that they buy. Starting mainly in the 1960s, Americans were given new options for homeownership that didn’t require as much work: townhomes and condos. (Contrary to the typical interchanging of the two terms, these two types of units are actually different: in a townhome, the homeowners own the land while condo owners do not.) The associations in these developments take care of much of the outdoor work leaving the homeowners to tackle the interior.
In addition to Baby Boomers who are retiring and downsizing to homes that will require less work, I would guess that many in the younger generation want homeownership without all the work.