Majority believe that homeownership is still the American dream

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, 7 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 didn’t. 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.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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