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For Americans, Home Is Still Where the Heart Is

Americans are now taking a more realistic view of homeownership and how much home they can afford. . / Credit: Home and heart image via Shutterstock

Homeownership may have taken a beating during the Great Recession, but its place in the heart of the American dream is secure, a new survey shows. The big change wrought by the economic downturn is that Americans are now taking a more realistic view of homeownership and how much home they can afford.

Coldwell Bank Real Estate teamed with Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist, to explore the feelings Americans have on the value of the home and homeownership now, compared to before the downturn, based on the responses of an online survey of more than 2,100 U.S. adults. The consensus was clear: Owning a home is still the foundation of the American dream.

An overwhelming majority (91 percent) of Americans agreed that owning a home is part of the American dream, the survey found. And they overwhelmingly want to pass the dream along — 95 percent of parents/legal guardians agreed that it is important for their children to own a home someday and 74 percent feel it's absolutely essential/very important.

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But it was clear that the recession has tempered expectations. A majority of respondents (79 percent) indicated the recession had caused society to rethink the concept of homeownership. In fact, 84 percent of U.S. adults agree more people took owning a home for granted before the recession and nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they feel that Americans have a greater respect for it now than before the recession.

We've also reordered our priorities, the survey found. Seventy-five (75) percent of U.S. adults agree that due to changes in the housing market and/or economy there has been an overemphasis on the financial value of a home rather than the emotional value of a home.

The survey strongly indicated that people are re-evaluating their needs versus wants when purchasing a home. Ninety percent of U.S. adults agree that some people purchased more expensive homes than they should have before the recession. Meanwhile, 86 percent of Americans agreed that people are more closely evaluating how much home they can afford now, compared to before the recession.

"After any major fallout like a financial downturn, it's natural to examine and sometimes alter the way we think about fundamental issues in our lives," Ludwig said.  "So it makes sense that this survey shows we are re-thinking what passed for conventional wisdom during the 'boom years.' Instead of taking things for granted, people are protective of their jobs, homes and futures," she explained. "And now that we're picking up the pieces, we're seeing a psychological shift. Instead of looking at homes through the eyes of an economist, we're realizing that a home doesn't solely equate to financial return or measure only to a mortgage amount. Instead the home is the emotional center of our lives, and it remains a critical component of who we are."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.