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Majority believe that homeownership is still the American dream

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

Homeownership is fundamental to the American psyche.  Despite all the recent problems in the housing and mortgage industries, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that owning a home is still the American dream.

When asked the simple question, "Do you think that owning a home is still the American dream?," 81 percent of people who responded to MMI's recent Homeownership Survey answered, "Yes."  In addition, seven out of 10 people surveyed believe that owning a home is a good investment.

There's no doubt that pride in homeownership can be good for neighborhoods and communities; however, the strong tie between homeownership and the American "ideal" makes a hard situation harder for people struggling to stay in their homes.  Thankfully, there is a lot of help available to homeowners who are facing foreclosure.  For example, HUD recently launched the Emergency Homeownership Loan Program (EHLP) to help homeowners who have experienced a drop in income.

The survey also asked the 18 percent of respondents who do not think owning a home is still the American dream why they feel that way. Although there were a wide variety of answers, there were several common themes:

  • Owning a home is too expensive (58 comments – 30%)
  • There is more to the American dream than owning a house (43 comments – 22%)
  • Comments related to the economy (34 comments – 17%)
  • Owning a house is too much trouble/work (14 comments – 7%)

Here are some examples of what they said:

  • "You need to be able to afford and be responsible for a home. It’s not a right."
  • "Some people don't want to worry about maintaining a yard and everything else that comes along with home ownership. I would rather rent an apartment or condo where landscaping and building maintenance is included in the rent. It isn't something I want to worry about since I lead an active lifestyle and don't have time for those kinds of things."
  • "It's a leftover idea from another time. A person can possibly live a much more comfortable, stress-free lifestyle by renting."
  • "Debt experts are saying it’s overrated and that is the easiest way to get into uncontrolled debt."
  • "Because there is much more to the "American dream" than just owning a home. Like your health, your family's well being and other things are of equal or greater importance."

What do you think?  Is owning a home your idea of the American dream?

The Homeownership Survey was conducted by Cynapsys and Russell Research from May 20 to 23, 2011 on behalf of Money Management International.  The survey was answered by 1,027 individuals.

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Behind on your mortgage? Facing foreclosure?

Find out if you're eligible for government assistance before the July 22 deadline. Contact the experts at Money Management International for help with the application.

HUD’s Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) will provide up to $50,000 of mortgage payment relief for qualifying homeowners in the form of a zero interest forgivable loan. The deadline is approaching fast. Contact MMI for more information and assistance.

Click here for information on applying for the EHLP

Watch this video for more EHLP info:

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Cell phones and Internet not likely candidates for consumer cutbacks


The June Financial Literacy Opinion Index poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed the most likely activities people are willing to sacrifice to save money: activities like eating out, shopping, fancy (and expensive) coffees, and cable TV. But when it comes to cell phones and Internet service, a strong majority remains resistant to cutting back.

When asked to select the last thing they would give up to save money, 3,148 respondents answered as follows:

  • Designer coffee – 1%
  • Online or catalogue shopping – 1%
  • Eating out – 4%
  • Cable TV – 8%
  • Home Internet service – 32%
  • Cell phone – 53%

The contrast between Internet service and cell phones and the rest of the choices is striking. Americans love technology – especially anything that lets them stay connected. It is not surprising that consumers are reluctant to part with their Internet service and cell phones, as the poll confirms that Americans consider these as must-haves.

Computer use has become ingrained as a part of people’s everyday activities as they rely on their Internet access to do things like search for a job, connect with friends, research a project, trade stocks, entertain themselves, and stay up to date on breaking news.

Today’s consumers may be reluctant to give up their cell phone, not only due to convenience, but because they have disconnected their land line in favor of their cell as the main source of verbal communication. Considering the capabilities of today’s smart phones, tech-savvy consumers have begun to rely on their cells to perform many of the same tasks as their computer.

However, they may still have the opportunity to save money in those areas by examining their current cell phone and Internet plans. People often have plans with bells and whistles they seldom use, and discontinuing such services can save a significant amount of money.

As a whole, the poll results indicate that consumers are making logical choices when determining where to cut back, as they elected to eliminate spending in the areas where the lifestyle change would be least noticed, thus increasing the likelihood of sustainability. For instance, they can brew coffee at home, prepare meals at home, and control their shopping. Giving up cable seemed doable possibly due to the many viewing options available online or via a cell phone.

It is encouraging that consumers appear to have thought through their cost-cutting decisions and made wise choices. This level of awareness will not only help people ride out the difficult economic times they’re currently experiencing, but result in a more stable financial future.

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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