Changing perceptions of the American dream.


Homeownership--the American dream. A vision created in the post-World War II boom, when returning military from the Greatest Generation began populating Levittowns and suburbs all over the country.

Today, however, the American dream has a very different connotation. A report from Zillow, Seattle, suggests that in 2016, millennials and their grandparents are most likely to associate homeownership with the American dream. Additionally, people of color are more likely than white people to connect the two.

According to the latest Zillow Housing Confidence Index, among people 18-34 years old, 65 percent said homeownership and the American dream go hand-in-hand--more than any other generation. Similar to millennials, 64 percent of respondents age 65 and older said homeownership is necessary for the good life and the American dream.

Non-whites were also more likely than white people to consider homeownership integral to the American dream, the survey said. Of Hispanic respondents surveyed, 70 percent agreed that owning their own home is necessary to live the American dream, followed by 64 percent of Asian respondents and 63 percent of African-American respondents. Nearly 60 percent of white respondents agreed.

"The American dream is really about opportunity, which means a lot of things to a lot of different people," said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. "For young Americans and Americans of color, the opportunity to own a home is a big part of that dream. It's often assumed that homeownership holds little interest for these groups or that they may feel the challenges in achieving homeownership aren't worth the benefits. But that's simply not true, and their optimism and determination today will be hugely important to the stability and growth of the housing market tomorrow. These Americans represent the next generation of U.S. homeowners, and for homeownership to eventually become a reality, it has to start as a dream."

The findings come at a time when the homeownership rate (63.8 percent) is at its lowest level since 1994 and when rising rents and stagnant incomes are making it tough for many Americans to buy homes. Millennials are renting longer than past generations as they put off major life decisions.

But a recent Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) research paper, Housing Demand: Demographics and the Numbers Behind the Coming Multi-Million Increase in...

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