The American dream of the 1950s — owning a home in suburbia — is no longer what it seems. Single income households are generally a thing of the past, and residential renting became much more practical when the housing market turned downwards at the onset of the economic recession. As single family home sales stalled, condominium purchases picked up some slack. In some areas of this country, the price of a house is still a better option than the price of a rental due, in large part, to the still massive amount of subprime mortgages outstanding.
What isn’t widely known or discussed is the future of this market. Some commentary on the subject has been given to the effect of discussing whether the American public should exchange the increasing rents for the rent-to-own option or, assuming credit history and background checks are in order, the possibility of acquiring a foreclosed property. But there are factors at play in this market with bleak implications for the nation that area going somewhat unnoticed.
With an increase in rental prices and the corresponding decline in home prices, investors seized upon the opportunity to do what capitalists do: exploit. High rent means a clientele change; those who cannot afford continuing rent hikes are forced to seek alternatives. Condos help minimally with this whereas foreclosed homes offer bright hope — however, there is a ‘but’ here. Since foreclosed homes are inexpensive compared to homes listed for sale by regular means, those with access to ‘big money’ began to purchase high volumes of this new commodity at auctions or flat-out transactions with the intent to lease as landlords.
So what? That already occurs, doesn’t it? Yes, it does. But it wasn’t on the current scale. What we will begin to see is disenfranchisement of the young to the benefit of the rich in a new way. Those who had to give up their homes due to the financial and housing crisis will now face rents that are more than what they were paying previously. Additionally, an offshoot problem of investor-owned property is often that the rental properties fall into a state of disrepair as owners become landlords. The current state of landlords is usually a handful of properties to which they can remedy in a hasty fashion any issue that needs attention whereas the new players at the game have been buying hundreds or thousands of properties that often cannot be tended to in any manner other than the base-level living codes. Often these properties are treated as a form of stock and nothing more — which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the formation of stable communities.
What goes with that is, unfortunately, personal relationships will be nearly impossible to cultivate, thereby foreshadowing a different sort of disenfranchisement altogether: one that is based more on money than anything else. In turn, this places the majority of the public further down the societal ladder due to their economic status as a means of debasement. And while this cycle continues, finding a home just got a whole lot harder.