Monday, August 2, 2010

Home Ownership in the United States Falls to its Lowest Level in 50 Years: The High Tide of the American Dream Has Been Reached

Despite all the talk and hopes of a U.S. residential real estate turnaround, the percentage of Americans owning their own home has fallen to a FIFTY YEAR LOW and is still dropping further.

It is almost certain that the extremely high levels of home ownership evidenced over the last few years of the Bubble will never occur again.  This is especially true after the recent Obama financial reform bill that will act as a brake on mortgage issuance, in other words, protecting consumers from their own spending even if they can actually afford the payments.

While it is true that home ownership has always been the American dream, the government's method for boosting this key psychological consideration has been flawed and disastrous.  The loose money from the Fed, even looser underwriting standards from Fannie and Freddie, the push under the CRA to get renters in poor areas to buy homes, and more truly dumb government interference in the real estate market artificially pushed the homeownership rate far beyond any rational measure, at least one linked to responsible financial discipline.

The high water mark on American homeownership was reached in 2007 and likely will never reach that level again.  This is not necessarily a bad result, since owning a home takes discipline and should be earned by constant savings, paying your bills on time, and otherwise demonstrating that you EARNED the right to the American dream, and not merely been given a piece of the country because you can fog up a mirror and sign a mortgage agreement.

Robert J. Abalos, Esq.