Homeownership: Is It an American Dream in Decline?
Digested From "Home Ownership: An American Dream in Decline"
Coloradoan (09/01/12) by Pat Ferrier
As the next generation's needs have changed, the American Dream of homeownership may morph into a dream of greater flexibility through renting. Americans need greater mobility in the current economic climate, but they also have greater discretionary income, and as a result, homeownership rates have continued falling, most precipitously among younger people. The homeownership rate sank 9.6 percent among young adults between ages 25 and 34 since 1980 and 9 percent for those ages 35 to 44, according to a recent Fannie Mae study. Les Kaplan, who is building 240 upscale apartments with partner Ken Kiken of Milestone Development of Denver, says, "The belief that homeownership is a form of savings and preparing for retirement has become a myth. [Even with house values declining, people need to be more mobile.] They don't want to be tethered down to homeownership." He also says that multifamily housing can provide a sense of community and lifestyle once found in single-family houses, including fitness centers, pools, and dog-washing areas. Stephan Weiler, professor of economics at Colorado State University, says, "Housing is a choice and should reflect your lifestyle and priorities." He also notes that renting does not necessarily lead to changes in a neighborhood's sense of community. Kaplan, in noting that renting is like owning a small, efficient car, reasons, "The stigma has shifted the same way car ownership has. If you had a big, expensive car, it was a status symbol. If you had a small, efficient car you were considered to be impoverished. Now, it's considered smart. Being tethered down by a house, mortgage payment, and nonappreciating asset is not considered to be as smart anymore. As smart becomes more fashionable, living in an apartment becomes more fashionable."