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Is a Rentership Society the New American Dream?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

                           The recession/depression and housing crash have certainly altered the old American Dream…at least for the foreseeable future.   The ongoing foreclosure crisis will drive another 3 million families to rent single family homes before 2015.

These millions of people are not typical renters, either.  They are older.  They have furniture, appliances, kids and pets.  They are not interested in apartment living.  They are looking to move back into single family homes, after foreclosure.   This new growth in single family rentals is the fastest growing part of the rental market and the pace is unprecedented.

A Nation of Renters Appears to be the Plan?

Private Equity groups smell the blood in the water.  They are buying up billons of dollars in distressed property, which they will in turn rent back to American families.  Colony Capital, for example, has purchased over 1ooo single family homes since December of this year and plans to invest at LEAST $1.5 BILLION more this year. 

In the next 5-10 years, investment firms will gobble up hundreds of billions of dollars of single family homes, at basement prices.  They will Raise rents every chance they get over the next 3-5 years.  Then, they will dump these properties for a profit and move on something else.

How does a Renting Society change the American neighborhood? 

The combination of transient families and declining home values will take a huge toll on American neighborhoods.    A rentership society is much less likely to spend money on plants, a fresh coat of paint, new carpet or a fenced yard—as they would if they owned the home they live in.   

Renters also mean shifts in student populations and present more challenges for our school systems.  Many schools in the Phoenix area report that 50% of their students will be new this year, a far higher percentage than normal.   Everything slows down when a new student enters a classroom and parents are less likely to be involved, when they are not sure they will be there for long.

Is American homeownership still the American Dream?

Thankfully, the answer is YES.  83% of people who lost their homes to foreclosure or distress sales say they want to own their own home again.  Most say they will buy something smaller than they had.  Many promise they will never again tie up so much of their income for a home.  Many who are forced to rent feel displaced.  They feel that they are living in someone else’s house.   They are fearful of entering retirement without having a home that is paid for…which only owning and paying off a mortgage will accomplish.    So, yes, neigborhoods are changing…new homeowners aren’t families, but are investment firms…but appears for all the right reasons… the American dream is alive… at least for now. 

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