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American Home Ownership: Dream Deferred or In Need of Renovation?

While conceding that suburbia, and home construction patterns, will change in the coming decades, a new report from Joel Kotkin argues that the "dream" of suburban American homeownership is alive and well and poised to remain relevant.

For years, observers have questioned the ongoing relevance of the "classic American dream of home ownership." 

"These opinions — which we refer to as ‘retro-urbanist’ — gained public credence with the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007," says Kotkin in the introduction to his new report, Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century. "The widespread media reports of foreclosed housing in suburban tracts, particularly in the exurban reaches of major metropolitan areas, led to widespread reports of the 'death of suburbia' and the imminent rise of a new, urban-centric 'generation rent.'”

"Yet despite this growing 'consensus' about the future of housing and home ownership, our analysis of longer-term demographic trends and consumer preferences suggests that the 'dream,' although often deferred, remains relevant," he argues. "We see this in the strength of suburbs, as well as in the growth of the post-war 'suburbanized cities' that generally have been the fastest growing regions of the country."

"Ultimately, we believe that the dream is not at all dead, but is simply evolving. America’s tradition of property ownership, privacy, and the primacy of the family has constituted a critical aspect of our society since before the nation’s founding. It will need to remain so in the decades ahead if the country is to prove true to the aspirations of its people and the sustainability of its demographics."



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