Owning a home no longer the American Dream

June 4, 2014: 7:04 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The great American Dream is dying. Even though many Americans still desire to own a home, they are losing faith in homeownership as a key to prosperity.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, believe they are less likely to build wealth by buying a home today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, according to a survey sponsored by non-profit MacArthur Foundation. And nearly 43% said buying a home is no longer a good long-term investment.

"Americans no longer see homeownership as a secure path to building equity and wealth," said Geoff Garin president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey of 1,355 adults.

"That has made them more willing to think fresh about their housing options," he said.

Related: The American Dream is out of reach

A majority of respondents said they believe renting is more appealing than buying -- and that renters are just as likely to be successful financially as someone who owns a home.

During the first quarter, the homeownership rate dipped to one of its lowest levels in almost two decades, according to the Census Bureau.

Related: America's growing housing affordability gap

Historically, owning a home has been considered an essential part of achieving the American Dream.

However, the housing bust, with its explosion of foreclosures, changed all that.

"People believed if you reached the middle class, you didn't have to make the difficult decision of renting or buying without falling behind on credit card payments or health care bills," said Garin.

Related: Priced out: 'I can't afford a home in my town'

And even though many experts say the housing market is recovering, many Americans aren't buying it.

The survey found that 70% of Americans still believe we are in the midst of the crisis and nearly 20% think the worst is yet to come.

That's because many Americans were impacted directly by the economy and the housing bust and are still struggling to get by.

Related: Buy vs. rent: What you'll pay in 10 largest cities

More than half of those surveyed said they had to take on an additional job or work extra hours, stop saving for retirement, accumulate credit card debt or cut back on health care in order to afford their housing payments at least once over the past three years.

"Concern about the housing market is very personal," said Garin.


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