American Dream of Homeownership in Trouble

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That the American dream of homeownership lives on despite the worst housing recession in eight decades is a popular notion, backed by survey after survey of consumers who still believe that ownership is the path to economic salvation.

But a new poll, this one by Lifestyle Research out of Newport Beach, Calif., finds just the opposite is true: The dream of ownership is not alive and well and living in America.

That’s not necessarily true among the various age groups, the study, which was released at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ annual conference in Denver, found.

Youngsters in the 25- to 34-year-old age brackets were more inclined to believe people were too pessimistic over the long term. But overall, more than 53% of the 9,000 respondents nationwide, “believe the American Dream is dead,” said Eric Snider, president of Lifestyle Research, who has been conducting consumer studies for more than 25 years, including spots with Pulte Home, Shea Homes and several private builders.

Worse, perhaps, is that a big majority of respondents—nearly 68%—said they have lost all confidence in the integrity of the American financial system. Again, baby boomers are the most discouraged, but not one of the Gen X cohorts had any trust in the financial system, either.

Digging deeper into feeling about home ownership, the survey, which was taken in the first quarter of 2012, asked respondents to agree or disagree with the statement, “The future is bright and more Americans will be given the chance to own a home.” And a shocking 48% said they disagreed.

It is not abnormal for monumental changes in consumer psyche to follow major upheavals. But Snider told the real estate writers group that the results of his study “are definitive and represent an extraordinary departure from the past…Consumers beliefs have changed radically.”

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