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As we’ve noted before, homeownership has taken a beating over the last year or so. The new case against the American Dream has basically two dimensions: One stems from the havoc wreaked by the collapse an federal-loan-fueled housing bubble. And another, advanced chiefly by creative classist Richard Florida, posits that owning real estate only drags down an increasingly flexible workforce.
All of this is bad news for the folks who make their living on the premise of homeownership as the ultimate goal of prosperity: Real estate agents. And they’re not letting the bedrock principle go lightly. At their annual conference in New Orleans a couple weeks ago, the National Association of Realtors rolled out a gauzy infomercial:
It’s an emotional pitch (“Homeownership matters because it’s a true reflection of who you are!”), and maybe that’s what NAR is going for. But it doesn’t answer any of the serious questions raised about the value of real estate as an investment that will always pay off, or make any case for homeownership as an element of more sustainable communities, as the Region Forward people suggested this morning. It would be great to see NAR throw in its lot with progressive housing policies, rather than just blithely cheerleading real estate acquisitiveness using all the old arguments that drowned out warnings that a hot market wasn’t all it seemed. Perhaps too much to expect of a trade association, but one can always hope.