At first blush, I was sure I was NOT going to like this article. I am a San Francisco Realtor who helps many home buyers achieve their dream of home ownership. So when I opened my Wall St. Journal and saw “The New American Dream: Renting,” by Thomas J. Sugrue my eyes rolled and I was like, “Whatever.”
But, I read on if only so I could have a witty retort for when someone mentioned the article to me at a party. Who am I kidding? In my crowd, I am the ONLY person reading the Wall St. Journal! 😉
What I read was both an interesting summary of the history of real estate in America and a reality check for all of us. Fair or not, not everyone can or should become a home owner because it is just not financially feasible.
The so-called “Big Brother” programs from the Depression on have helped to even the playing field in many ways, in particular for minority home ownership. And that is a very good thing.
However, in the recent years there was such an obsession with property ownership and real estate that too many folks took the responsibility of home ownership too lightly.
They bought and sold homes like they were tickets to a Giants game. They used their homes as piggy banks and rainy day funds. They assumed that the value of these homes would continue to appreciate in double-digits forever.
During the wild late 1990s and the first years of the new century, the dream of home ownership turned hallucinogenic.
Really, all of us in the real estate, lending, or even government played a part even if, like me, they stayed away from working with sub prime borrowers and were careful to make sure their clients could, indeed, afford their homes and took a long-road view of wealth creation. Even so, we all played a part.
IF it is the right time in your life, financially, emotionally, and psychologically, then buying a home in San Francisco is a very smart thing to do. We have a healthy, diverse market. And, home ownership IS good for your life, your family, and your financial future.
Consider the following about the “American Dream.” It’s about time we got back to basics on this, don’t you think?
James Truslow Adams, the historian who coined the phrase “the American dream,” one that he defined as “a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank” also offered a prescient commentary in the midst of the Great Depression. “That dream,” he wrote in 1933, “has always meant more than the accumulation of material goods.” Home should be a place to build a household and a life, a respite from the heartless world, not a pot of gold.