The American Dream


Yesterday I linked to Mark Gimein’s piece suggesting that recent stability in the housing market was a mirage and prices still have a ways to fall. Today, via Felix Salmon, a survey from Fannie Mae suggests that a surprising number of people don’t believe this:

Hey, it’s always a good time to buy a house! Now, in fairness, there may be parts of the country where housing prices have retreated to their long-term trend rates and it really is an OK time to buy a house. But I’m pretty sure it’s not 64% of the country. Regardless, nearly three-quarters of the people in the survey thought that home prices were unlikely to fall over the next year.

As Felix says, the notion that “housing prices never go down” has a strong hold on the American imagination. If the last few years haven’t taught people otherwise, I’m not sure what will.

Anyway, lots of good stuff in the survey, and Felix has loads of good comments too. It looks like owning your own home is still the American dream.

POSTSCRIPT: And speaking of that, it’s an excuse to link to a part of my appearance on Bill Moyers’ show in January that I’m surprisingly proud of. At the end of the main show, a producer suddenly told us that she wanted to tape us giving an answer to the question, “What’s the future of the American dream?” I had about 10 seconds to think about this before there was a camera in my face, and yet I somehow managed to provide an almost sensible answer anyway. You try it! Ten seconds, starting now.

Unfortunately, my answer started with “I think probably the American Dream in the future is going to be maybe a little bit less about owning a home.” It might have sounded sensible at the time, but I guess I was dead wrong.