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Your Take: Is Homeownership the American Dream?

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My parents came to the United States because it was the land of opportunity. It was a place where you could, on the basis of your abilities and hard work, make a good life for yourself and your family. It isn’t a utopia, it’s far from it, but it’s a lot better than a lot of other places in the world. We still have our issues and our problems but fundamentally the “dream,” as I always understood it, was that you could succeed through hard work.

Somewhere along the way the American Dream meant owning a home. I saw it mentioned a bunch of times as the housing markets fell and we stumbled our way into the financial crisis. When did that happen? Is that what most people think of when they see the American Dream?

I know that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were created, in part, to make homeownership easier. If you have someone willing to buy up pretty much any mortgage loan you create, you can continue to make loans and people can continue to buy homes (and then you can see where abuse comes into play). However, I don’t think that means that homeownership is the American Dream. It might be part of it, but I don’t think it embodies it.

What does the American Dream mean to you? And do you think it’s dead? Or just taking a breather?

{ 47 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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47 Responses to “Your Take: Is Homeownership the American Dream?”

  1. Frugalmom says:

    I think home ownership is still a part of the “American Dream”. Unfortunately, in the last decade – instead of it being something to aspire to – it was no longer a “dream” – but it almost became a “right”. Banks and regulations made it easy for just about “anyone” to get a home loan – regardless of a person’s ability to pay – no “dreaming” or planning required. Now the rest is history.

  2. I loved reading the comments here…very intriguing. I especially like Michael’s comment about freedom. Freedom is what allows each of us to pursue a better, richer, and more secure life for ourselves and our families, which is what American is all about.

    For me, that means working for myself, attaining financial independence through hard work, traveling whenever I want, and not having a big home and yard that sucks away at my time, money and energy.

  3. Scott says:

    We owned (and paid off) our second home. Moved to Cali and rent as owning is still cost preventative. We have the moolah, just can’t get the #’s to make sense unless we can get the home around $300-350k. All that will get you is a beater home with 1100 sq ft…

    We’re renting a 1600-1700 sq ft home in a great neighborhood for around $2,100 and just can’t justify it.

    We want to own, but we have to get the right deal to make it worth it.

  4. zapeta says:

    I agree with the others who have said that freedom is really the American dream. Owning a house isn’t on my list.

  5. imposter222 says:

    I did not read through all the comments on this thread, but it’s been my personal observation that “home ownership” is still a dream for many – not only in the US, but around the world.

    Those of us lucky enough to have lived through the late thirties as children, and survived WWII, our opportunities were almost limitless – with a good education and hard work.

    I believe our generation of Americans had it best in this world for more than fifty years after WWII.

    Unfortunately, greed has taken over many in industry and the banks, and the earning power of the middle class and poor remained stagnant even as our productivity increased.

    Our government lost site of what America was, and spent money on wars over our children’s education and infrastructure. Even as more Americans lose their jobs and homes, our government continues to spend billions on wars that only creates more animosity in the Middle East and the world.

    We cannot be the world’s police with only five percent of the world population. It’s logistically impossible.

    There are now two classes of people in the US; the very rich who represent the top five percent of Americans who owns over 80% of the wealth, and the rest who struggle to make ends meet from paycheck to paycheck – and that’s if they’re lucky enough to have a job.

    • “There are now two classes of people in the US; the very rich who represent the top five percent of Americans who owns (sic) over 80% of the wealth, and the rest who struggle to make ends meet from paycheck to paycheck ”

      Really? Because I’m not in either class, nor do any of my friends appear to be. The elimination of the middle class is a myth. Just because there’s less prosperity than there was a few years ago doesn’t mean that everyone’s either using other people as footstools, or being a footstool.

      And I assume you’re suggesting that China, maybe India “be the world’s police”?

  6. Queenie says:

    I am a baby boomer, and thank God my parents and family taught us to live within our means, pay down your home loan so you could own it, NOT use it as an ATM machine. The only time you use a credit card is for convenience, but pay it off at the end of the month. Ask yourself is this a Want or a Need! To own your home was a home base for the family. Our children are grown and have suffered greatly due to the economy, lost jobs, and evictions. Like many families out there, their children and grandchildren are coming to live with the grand-parents who still have a home, because they cannot afford to even rent at this time! It does seem to be like the great depression at times, going back to basics, living humbly is not so bad! We thank GOD for our home!

    • Scott says:

      Your statement sounds so basic…it’s a shame people don’t teach their kids about finance. The least they could do is put a class in high school to do this.

      I had to learn on my own at 25 and I’m still learning at 40…passing on to our daughter as much as she’ll let us.

      Spend less than you make is so basic and if you apply this simple principle to anything you buy, what else is needed?

  7. karen mary anne says:

    I just found this post and really appreciate it.
    I was reflecting today that for me, it did not appeal to me to ever buy or own a home. I did not know that the majority of “homeowners” today, were still owing on their mortgage. This may be naive but I thought, well then they are not “homeowners” in reality, they were “home owner loan borrowers” meaning they never had obtained the “american dream” of owning a home, unless they had paid off the mortgage. This psyche awakening is really important for those that lived in that denial or fantasy. I grew up in a large home, with four siblings, before Nixon changed the dollar off gold, it was a huge house, and it felt so lonely without togetherness as a family. The point is of course that a “home” is what you make of it, and surely families can make a home in rental property. I have a college degree and law degree and aspiring writer now — I did do student loans, which I regret.
    The question is if you define the american dream as home ownership, then that is a fantasy under the mortgage schemes; a stock it was a stock for investment — so sad, so sad.
    Thanks for your comments

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