Fewer Americans see homeownership as path to financial success

As more Americans are discouraged about the American Dream, fewer see homeownership as a means for reaching financial stability:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, believe they are less likely to build wealth by buying a home today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, according to a survey sponsored by non-profit MacArthur Foundation. And nearly 43% said buying a home is no longer a good long-term investment…

A majority of respondents said they believe renting is more appealing than buying — and that renters are just as likely to be successful financially as someone who owns a home…

Historically, owning a home has been considered an essential part of achieving the American Dream.

However, the housing bust, with its explosion of foreclosures, changed all that.

The key may just be in the second paragraph cited above. It is one thing to have economic hiccups where homeownership is a less viable option for many because of financial troubles. In this sort of scenario, the economy would improve and people would just right back into owning a home. It is another thing to fundamentally rethink perceptions of renters. For decades, many suburbanites and others have suggested that renters – often in apartments but also in houses – are not as committed to their communities and tend to be lower class. Renters couldn’t be trusted as much, didn’t care much about property values, and were generally less desirable than owners who would invest more in their homes and neighborhoods. But, if more people across a broader range of classes and places become renters, perhaps this will all change.

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