Shiller looks at broad historical trends in homeownership - housing near factories and warehouses in the 19th century, streetcar suburbs in the early twentieth, and the rise of the sprawling suburbs following the path of the nation's highway system - and wonders what the next decade will bring. He looks at current trends, such as walkable urbanism and rental homes, but isn't ready to affirm those trends will continue.
"In the wake of the housing crisis, and amid shifting demographics, it’s plausible that a broad change in thinking is ahead, reducing demand for large suburban homes. After all, the national psyche has absorbed the tribulations of the millions of people who have been living in homes worth less than their mortgages, struggling to make payments and yet unable to sell. Smaller living quarters may become more socially acceptable."
"If you want to settle down for a quiet life and watch your children grow up in a nice neighborhood, you might well act now to lock in an ultralow mortgage rate. Then again, if you’re restless, ambitious and determined to be mobile, it might be sensible to rent rather than own. Calculating the best economic return may not even be possible, given the uncertain investment potential."