After Crash, Many Americans Now Shun Homeownership

Victoria Pauli signed a one-year lease last week to stay in her rental home in Fair Oaks, Calif. She had considered buying in the area, where property prices have slumped 57 percent since a 2005 peak. In the end, she decided it was not worth it.

“I know people who have watched their home values get cut in half, and I know people who are losing their homes,” said Pauli, 31, a property manager for a real estate company. “It’s part of the American dream to want to own your own home, and I used to feel that way, but now I tell myself: Be careful what you wish for.”

The most affordable real estate in a generation is failing to lure buyers as Americans like Pauli sour on the idea of home ownership. At the end of 2010, the fourth year of the housing collapse, the share of people who said a home was a safe investment dropped to 64 percent, from 70 percent in the first quarter. The December figure was the lowest in a survey that goes back to 2003, when it was 83 percent.

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