Owning a Home in a new American Dream

The American Dream traditionally included homeownership. Americans, have, over the years, aspired to own their homes, and patiently saved up for it. American author Zig Ziglar said, “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” And he expressed the flip side of the coin, “Selling is essentially a transfer of feelings.”

People continue to buy houses, but having owned them for about 5-7 years, they sell and move on. That is the trend today, which homeowners of a generation ago, who lived in the same house for 30 years or more, find hard to understand.

Yet, as American designer, Maya Lin, said, “The American dream (to her) is being able to follow your own personal calling.” True enough, each person has his or her personal calling. For instance, the home may have been bought as a first-time home, and is now too small for a growing family. Or the homeowners may be empty-nesters who want to sell up and move close to family elsewhere. Or they could be relocating for a new job, or to move in with a spouse after marriage. Sometimes people fall sick and cannot maintain a house. There could be so many reasons why people sell their houses. Furthermore, they could also be looking at selling houses fast.

People are, most often, waiting on the sale of their current home to buy a new house elsewhere. And, as the well-known quote goes, “If you want to make your house easy to sell, make it easy to buy.” This is good advice to people whose houses sit for months and months on the market, with many a buyer passing them by for others they consider more attractive.

For many needing fast sale of their houses, “Home Staging” may be an answer. American entrepreneur and “Shark” investor, Barbara Corcoran, said, “Home staging used to be optional. Today, it’s a necessity in selling a house.” When it comes to the brass tacks, home staging is all about illusion. It is the way a house is dressed up for a successful sale. There are highly skilled artists who are trained in home staging, able to create sensuous and enchanting décor to entice buyers. For instance, Dawna Johnson, a skilled artist with 35 years of experience, an Accredited Staging Professional Master from Sacramento, said, “If your home is vacant, it’s soulless. Without staging, it will probably remain on the market for many months.” Therefore, staging professionals spruce up the rooms, making the house look more cozy and attractive, adding touches of beauty that have undeniable appeal. Soft drapes that fall gracefully, orange-polished furniture arranged in a classical manner, colorful and pastel-shaded rugs and throws, and books and knick-knacks to give a lived-in look. Dawna calls the kitchen the “heart of the home” and believes in color and sparkle of fruit and cookbooks on counters.

The American Dream appears to have changed somewhat, from the 1920s. Since the early 20thcentury, many US Presidents encouraged and gave voice to a Dream that pursued material benefits. For instance, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his Economic Bill of Rights in 1944, defined the constitution’s pursuit of happiness as “decent housing, a good job, education and health care.” President Harry Truman who succeeded him, broadened the Dream to include entitlement. This meant that if you were law-abiding, hard-working citizen, the government was duty-bound to provide you financial security, a home, healthcare and education. Subsequent Presidents such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, also stood by the concept of homeownership as a component of the American Dream. However, the explosion of the housing bubble blasted the American Dream for many people, and changed their perspective of the Dream. For Instance, the Center for a New American Dream says, “We envision a society that pursues not just “more,” but more of what matters—and less of what doesn’t.” They aim to persuade people to abandon a high-consumption life style and instead embrace a “more fun with less stuff” attitude and consume resources with responsibility, with respect for the environment and for posterity.

In a similar spirit, more Americans are now seeking smaller, more livable homes, rather than expensive mansions in exclusive or affluent neighborhoods. Many home buyers are seeking to live with nature. Americans are reconsidering decisions in buying homes, and are distancing themselves from the flamboyance and consumerism of earlier times, choosing instead, smaller, more practical homes with better quality, time-and-energy saving appliances. They do not engage in endless buying sprees, but practice mindful consumption, letting go of things in order to buy something new. Furthermore, with Millennials postponing marriage and having fewer or no kids at all, the demand for grand family homes has seen a significant dive.

As English essayist, Sir Henry Maximilian “Max” Beerbohm, once said, “We must stop talking about the American Dream, and start listening to the dreams of Americans.” The old American Dream was shattered forever for many people during the recession. However, as the saying goes, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”

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