The American Dream….
You hear it everyday: “to become a homeowner is the American Dream” but to many people it has become nothing short of a nightmare. They are stressed trying to find the way to pay for out of control mortgages, late fees and avoiding foreclosures.
I was one of the millions of people considering selling and making a move in 2005. We looked at houses in Florida and quickly became disillusioned when a house we were considering jumped $20,000 in a week—without any repairs being done. Fixer-uppers were listed at incredible prices….and I was assured that the prices were only going up and to quickly make a purchase. Being cautious people we decided to step back as we had no new/confirmed jobs to rely on for income and our own home had not even been put on the market. I am glad we did considering where the market is now.
So many people are just barely getting by. The current economy has taken a toll on their sense of well being and happiness; no longer can most spend money on “extras” like eating out or going to the movies. Most people are living paycheck to paycheck—with that income already spent on basics. The ones who have lost jobs, well they are another story altogether.
Although the market is starting to improve we have long way to go. Obtaining a mortgage can be a lengthy process and only 1 of 3 may be approved without conditions. Is this a bad thing? I think not—I think we need to return to a common sense approach to buying a house: buy what you can afford and “dream” of the next one. We have become a nation where we need instant gratification—no longer are we interested in working our way up from the basics. It seems today’s buyers want everything done and very little TLC required (this is not a criticism but an observation). They want the big house, not the modest ranch or bilevel that their parents would’ve been starting with. That may be okay for those that can afford it but many have difficulty “settling” for a comfortable home, not realizing that it is not the dwelling that makes the Home, but the memories that are made within the four walls.
What I propose may be met with criticism from some: buy less than you can afford. Have a life, make some memories, relax more and pay less than you can spend. Go back to basics and talk to your neighbors; making strong friendships makes a better community—the kind of life we actually dream of when we think of home: kids safely playing in the yard or riding bikes around the neighborhood. Growing up being able to play ‘flashlight tag’, catching fireflies in a jar, and making s’mores on a grill are memories worth much more than a fancy house. I think if we go back to the basics we will become stronger as a Nation. We will become more content with less “things” and seek out opportunities for friendship and community.
Maybe, just maybe, the “American Dream” is more of wanting the feeling of Home, not the dwelling itself.