Thu May 24, 2012, 04:27 AM
xchrom (97,347 posts)
When Did Homeownership Become a Nightmare? The Fascinating History of Housing in America
In one short decade, home ownership has gone from being the Holy Grail of middle-class financial achievement -- the biggest and most lucrative investment most of us would ever make, and the one most reliably likely to pay off -- to a very risky financial ball-and-chain that more and more of us are going way out of our way to avoid.
To be sure, rental housing is no joy. You're answerable to the landlord for every picture nail, plugged drain and loose window; and you get to endure bad landscaping, cheap appliances and paint and carpet colors not even Martha Stewart could work with. But if the trade-off is between spending your life co-existing with your landlord's surreal aesthetic choices or watching your life savings turn into six-figure debt as the value of your house sinks beneath the waves, more and more of us are choosing to suck it up and embrace the charms of bubblegum pink bathroom tile.
For the last few years, renting has seemed prudent and safe -- even for those lucky enough to have the cash for a down payment and a stable enough income to buy. But as the bubble has deflated, and the prices are getting closer to what they would have been in a less exuberant economy, a few hardy souls are starting to venture back in.
What's different now, though, is that there are signs that the deep expectations and motivations of American homebuyers are changing. The economic crash has created some deep ontological shifts in how we value homes and home ownership. The early signals are starting to suggest that we're on a return trip back to a much older American tradition of home ownership – one that assessed a home's primary value not on the basis of its price on the open market, but for what it offered intrinsically to families in terms of security, stability and self-sufficiency.
La Lioness said I'm Princess Spice. So there.
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