Americans Say: Why Bother Owning?

It seems some folks are giving up on the American Dream.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that a mere 55% of adults say buying a home is the best investment families can make. That's down from 59% last November, 67% last May and 79% in June 2008. A similar question on a Fannie Mae's National Housing survey found that in 1996, a whopping 89% of Americans believed one was better off owning a home rather than renting.

The new skeptics include folks like Dave Guilford, a former stockbroker and small business owner who, in November 2008, sold his Mandeville, La. home for $220,000 and put his stake in a 4-bedroom Paris rental. "If it's up to me, we'll never own another home again, unless it's investment property and not our own residence," he says. "I'm perfectly content to rent for the rest of my life."

Guilford, 40, managed to scrape some equity out of the home, which he bought for $180,000 in 2003. But he thinks he would've gotten a better return if he had put the money into stocks or a retirement savings account -- especially after watching the home's value fall from its peak of $350,000.

"Owning your principal residence is perhaps the worst investment an adult can make," he says. "A lot of marketing has gone into convincing Americans that this is a good investment, when it is in fact a horrible investment for 90% of the population."