Homeownership Is no Longer the American Dream.

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Houses are filthy cheap right now. Homes are more affordable than at any time since the National Association of Realtors began measuring the data back in 1970, But folks aren’t buying. The economy and the constricted lending market have all but removed the option of homeownership for some. More and more people just don’t want to buy anymore. Maybe the house with a white picket fence is no longer part of the American dream.

The economic downturn has highlighted a trend in property purchasing behavior of the last 10 – 15 years, whereby the housing market has been fueled by the Baby Boomer generation, who have been in a position to buy bigger properties on the back of a strong economy. The onset of the credit crunch has occurred at the same time as many of that generation have begun moving into retirement. Those factors and the co-occurrence of children moving out, has meant that many households require smaller properties.

In the normal course of events, this would cause few issues. However, it appears that many of that generation’s children, the Generation X-ers, have less of a desire to own a large home or are not at a stage in their careers where they can make this kind of purchase. The consequence is that greater numbers of Baby Boomers are moving into retirement, looking to sell their homes and are being faced with an absence of buyers.

As individuals increasingly relocate to take jobs wherever the opportunity arises, renting is beginning to become the new standard for the working generation. With the rise of social networks, we are in some ways redefining the nature of ‘community’. Our neighbors may reside half way across the country and we may tweet rather than greet them. The residential dream for the millennium generation is being reshaped. The no-frills apartment idea has been replaced with a ‘destination living’ community, replete with a choice of swimming pools, chain restaurants, and volleyball courts appears to have lost its luster for the young. According to a study by the Center for Behavioral Economics at the Federal Reserve of Boston, the percentage of younger people who believe that owning a home is “always better than renting” has fallen by several points since 2008, at the outset of the current economic turbulence.

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