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Most Americans say housing crisis isn't over, survey finds

Many renters aspire to own a home, but the meltdown leaves doubts about whether ownership is essential to the American dream.

April 04, 2013|By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
  • The housing bust has created great skepticism about the traditional connection between homeownership and the American dream, a survey commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation has found.
The housing bust has created great skepticism about the traditional connection… (Justin Sullivan, Getty…)

Data may show that the housing markets are in recovery, but a lot of people are still asking: Why buy a home anyway?

The housing bust has created great skepticism about the traditional connection between homeownership and the American dream, a survey commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation has found.

The How Housing Matters Survey, released Wednesday, found that more than three-quarters of Americans believe we are still in the middle of the housing crisis or that the worst is yet to come. When it comes to remedies, two-thirds believe the nation's policy should be to encourage renting and homeownership equally.

More than 7 in 10 renters aspire to own a home someday, according to the telephone survey of 1,433 adults, conducted between Feb. 27 and March 10.

But it also turned up a solid majority who believe renters can be just as successful as owners in achieving the American dream.

"Many of the positive attributes that have long been associated with homeownership are fading," said Peter D. Hart of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey for the MacArthur Foundation.

"And on the flip side of the coin, it is remarkable that nearly half of all homeowners can picture themselves one day becoming a renter."

The sentiment was echoed by John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In an interview Tuesday with Times staffers, Williams noted that the housing crash and recession had undermined the traditional California belief that home prices and the net worth of owners moved in only one direction — up.

"Then the escalator broke," he said.

scott.reckard@latimes.com

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