(WSJ) Daniel Gross on the Shift from an Ownership to a Rentership Society

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the American mind, renting has long symbolized striving—striving, that is, well short of achieving. But as we climb our way out of the Great Recession, it seems something has changed. Americans are getting over the idea of owning the American dream; increasingly, they're OK with renting it. Homeownership is on the decline, and home rentership is on the rise. But the trend isn't limited to the housing market. Across the board—for goods ranging from cars to books to clothes—Americans are increasingly acclimating to the idea of giving up the stability of being an owner for the flexibility of being a renter. This may sound like a decline in living standards. But the new realities of our increasingly mobile economy make it more likely that this transition from an Ownership Society to what might be called a Rentership Society, far from being a drag, will unleash a wave of economic efficiency

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm

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1. Formerly Marion R. wrote:

“The old rules no longer apply” again?

So soon?


May 6, 1:33 am | [comment link]
2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Renting is also a great way to “short” a housing market that in many places remains over-priced ... and will continue to do so until sellers get more realistic and banks holding foreclosed properties reach the “puke point”.

What’s a house worth as a place to live? Take the monthly rent for similar houses in the area and add two zeroes. Anything beyond that is speculative fluff which has yet to be driven out of the market.

Pretty well any house built after about 1980 must be viewed as a depreciating durable on account of the generally terrible construction techniques. Smart people do not plan on sitting in those things forever.

May 6, 12:20 pm | [comment link]
3. Teatime2 wrote:

There should never have been any shame about renting. Home ownership isn’t really a big part of the “American Dream.” It’s simply a lifestyle choice. At least, it was until certain segments decided you could turn a home into an ATM and actually seeing the home as a place to live long-term was silly. Then, we had “flipping” homes and “starter” homes and McMansions.

Has anyone else noticed that the homes shown in TV commercials and such these days are far more modest and realistic? I’ve noticed, and I’m glad they’ve stopped portraying that average American’s home as a McMansion, or close to that. It props up greed, covetousness, and unrealistic “needs” or expectations (unless you have several children or more. The vast majority do not). I hope the huge homes standard doesn’t return.

May 6, 5:32 pm | [comment link]

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