People respond to the question 'What destroyed the American dream of owning a home?' and reveal how times have truly changed.
Homeownership was a core component of the American dream. In 1988, Anthony Depalma wrote in his article in The New York Times, "When it comes to owning a home, few people in the world pursue the dream with as much vigor, desire or penny-pinching thrift as Americans." Even though it continues to be one of the biggest items on the wishlist of Americans, even today, the pursuit of it has been increasingly marred with struggles and disappointment. Seeing this, u/NotAnotherTaxAudit put forward a simple question on Reddit, "What destroyed the American dream of owning a home?"
They seemingly put forward their opinion by posting a 1955 housing advertisement, which revealed the total price to be $7,450. It showcases how inflation has affected prices in real time. As per the listings in Realtor, the cost price of the house has increased more than 10 fold, but the same cannot be said about the income. People in the comment section came out with various reasons regarding the souring of this phenomenon. u/JudenKaisar explained how unbalanced the inflation has been on common folks.
They wrote, "For context, $7,450 in today's money is $85,685.28, adjusted for inflation. But the annual salary was $3,400 annually or $39,100.13 in today's money. In 1955, that house cost 2.19x the average male salary. In 2023, the median home price was $430,000 and the real median income in the US is $74,580.00. In 2023, the average home costs or 5.76x the average salary."
u/UncommercializedKat also pointed out how real estate has changed, which has put a damper on the plans to buy a home. She shared how builders in the Miami area are more focused on constructing bigger houses. Moreover, the "smaller ones" that are still around are closer to the city center. Therefore, they demand a higher price. She explained, "Builders aren't building new starter homes like this. They're building much larger homes in suburban developments. The prices are less expensive per square foot in the suburbs, but the larger houses keep the prices high."
u/Hawk13424 stated that the prices cannot be compared because the economic environment has changed significantly. In the 1950s, Miami did not have much going on, but now it has become a hub of activities. It has made it hard to own a house in such a locality. They elucidated, "People will compare the current price of a house to what their parents paid for that house 30 or more years ago without realizing the 'location' isn't the same. It's physically the same, but the economic environment around it changed. Jobs arrived. Infrastructure arrived. Demand in that area went up."
u/cambeiu blamed the souring of this dream on Americans being unable to digest their new reality. Some decades ago, Americans were on a high because of a great economy. The situation was so good that people could dream of buying a house with two cars on a high school diploma. They added, "Americans assume that this is the way the universe should work. That things were always like this and that Americans have the 'God-given right' of the American dream." Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, but people have not adjusted to that.
In the past, the middle class was supported and thought they were needed by the industrialists. But now, other countries have stepped up the game, which has caused the value of the middle class to drop. This drop is reflected in their cheques. As u/cambeiu added, "There are no political solutions for it, as no one, not even Trump's protectionism or the Democrat's Unions, can put the globalization genie back into a bottle. It is the way it is. Any politician who claims to be able to restore 'the good old days' is lying."