We don’t know when it began, but the American Dream seems to have earned itself a bad name, or at least the accusation of being irrelevant. We all have heard the American Dream is dead –here, here, and here – in too many headlines to list; a report just released last week declared 75% of Americans are losing faith in the Dream, and that just 1 in 5 say they are living it. But somehow, for something that is supposedly irrelevant or on life support, the American Dream finds itself in the news a lot, particularly lately. So let’s get to the bottom of this: do Americans care about the American Dream, or not? Short answer: yes.
Overall, 7 in 10 Americans (71%) – and 70% Millennials – say keeping the American Dream alive is important to them. 66% of all Americans and 69% of Millennials also say it is important to them that the American Dream stays relevant for their children and for future generations. However, there seems to be a consensus that the American Dream cannot become stagnant, and it must evolve to stay meaningful...
For decades, the “white picket-fence house” was the epitome of the American Dream, and an instantly recognizable icon in pop culture. Between 1950 and 1970, 18 of our country’s top 25 cities suffered a net loss of residents despite steady population growth in America overall. In the same period, suburban population more than doubled.
Recently, there has been mounting evidence that urbanization has reemerged to reverse decades of uninterrupted suburbanization of American. The U.S. Census Bureau reports urban population growth now outpaces rest of the nation. It is more than a matter of organic population migration and urban planning; what is also interesting is that it is symptomatic of the shifting ideals of the next generation of Americans.
According to the latest ValueInsured Modern Homebuyer Survey, “owning a home in the city” is now the number-one American Dream housing arrangement, ahead of “owning in the suburb”, “owning in the country”, “renting in the city”, “renting in the suburb”, and “renting in the country”. 26% of Millennials and 25% of Gen Xers want most to own in the city as their personal American Dream, compared to 11% of Baby Boomers surveyed who said the same. In contrast, Baby Boomers expressed the highest desire to own a home in the suburbs, at 35%.
Millennials are not only increasingly city bound, they are also leaving the “MacMasion” housing ideal behind. When asked to rank the most desirable criteria in a home, Millennials in our Spring 2016 survey ranked “safety of the neighborhood” and “affordability of the home” ahead of “size of the home”. Only 12% of Millennials ranked size as their top criterion, and one-third ranked size as one of the least important criterion of their ideal home.
Homeownership is the new American dream, at least according to Zillow and ValueInsured. In a recent survey, Zillow reported that over half of Millennials associate homeownership with the American Dream, which should make sense as people between the ages of 18 and 34 are waiting way longer to buy their first home than ever before.
The era of white picket fences, two-story homes, and garages housing new (or almost new) cars is a thing of the past. It’s the ‘American Dream,’ a concept that has been ingrained deep into the middle class psyche over the past several generations, which more or less means that the United States is founded upon a meritocracy – that hard work and dedication will deliver what you desire. It’s built into the nation’s fabric.
Many Millennial Renters Would Buy a Home If Only They Could Protect Their Nest Egg, Says New Survey
Despite an uncertain housing market, the American Dream of homeownership remains alive and well for modern consumers. The dream has just morphed a little with the times, especially for millennials.
Whether or not homeownership is the sure-fire investment it once was, modern consumers really do want to own their homes. But unlike past generations, they need extra assurance that they won’t be bankrupt by a housing market that’s still regaining its feet. Modern consumers also want some of the new flexibility and control that our modern rental society increasingly promises.
This worldview, at the core of the new American Dream, is supported by results of a new online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of ValueInsured.
I turned 40 last year. I remember it was not too long ago when the subject of Generation X was a gravitational force in the media, in academics and even in public policies. In the last decade – as an avid consumer of pop culture and an athlete who competes physically with younger people – I have learned our new generational obsession is now the Millennials. I understand Millennials are the largest demographic population in the history of America – 92 millions strong compared to Babyboomers’ 77 millions – and I heard they are do-gooders, more globally aware, and friendlier to the environment. All sounds terrific.
But as I dig deeper as a marketer, the news was not all rosy with Millennials. And this includes the American Dream.
Down payment protection can provide the confidence needed to buy and sell a home
According to a newly released survey of American homeowners and home renters, conducted online in October 2015 by Harris Poll on behalf of ValueInsured, although Americans embrace the dream of homeownership, the possibility of losing a hard-earned down payment seems to be discouraging them from taking the plunge. Only 55 percent of renters are confident they will get their down payment back if they were to buy today and have to sell in the next 2-7 years (the average employee tenure in the U.S. is 4.6 years overall, 3 years for millennials).
If Americans could trust their down payment to be protected, it would be a different story