CBS News did a piece this weekend titled, “Is Renting The New American Dream?” In the piece, they talked about the surge in the number of people looking to rent, and how the number of people buying homes is plummeting. The people they interviewed for the story talked about how they prefer to rent, especially in an economic climate like today's. So, has the American dream changed?
Personally I tend to agree with a comment on the story left by OneWorldUSA: “More people are renting because they have no downpayment (sic) and credit has been cut off to them. Renting is not the New American Dream, CBS, its (sic) the New American Reality for many.”
I couldn’t say it better myself. I think this story is missing the point that many Americans can’t buy even if they want to anymore. During the housing bubble, we saw record numbers of people buying homes, but that was in part because of the loose lending standards. It seemed like anyone with a pulse could buy a house, and of course we have seen that lending model fail. We are now looking at much stricter requirements for borrowers to get loans, and there just are not that many people who can qualify. To say that these people don’t want to own their own homes, though, might be a bit of a stretch.
The other piece to consider, of course, is that many people would like to own a home, but are choosing to wait on the sidelines, renting, until the market hits bottom. Buying a home is a huge deal, and a lot of people right now are nervous about making a bad investment. That being said, I think the American dream still involves people owning their own home. So while the American dream hasn’t necessarily changed, it most certainly is harder to achieve. Many people are choosing to postpone the dream for a while, just to be safe. Simply put, there is a new reality, not a new dream.