Many of us have seen the numerous “For Sale” signs throughout our neighborhoods, whether we live in Orlando or up in Detroit. The signs can be a source of sadness, worry and frustration. It’s all too common for families to lose their homes to foreclosure or to have to take big financial hits with a short sale or regular sale of their home.

Behind each house for sale or each house sold, there is a personal story. So many of those stories are sad, involving families who believed they had landed the American dream with the purchase of their home. That dream might have been tainted by an underwater mortgage, loss of job or other dark signs of the economic times.

NPR reports how the so-called American Dream is in a state of flux, largely due to the downturn in the economy and real estate market. Twenty-somethings, those who used to be the first-time homebuyers in this country, find that they need or want to postpone homeownership. They have seen their family members or friends get tangled up with the stress and financial pitfalls of risky lending and the real estate crisis.

That crisis has resulted in barriers for younger consumers who generally might have had little trouble buying a home. Getting a home mortgage loan is difficult today. Also, jobs, particularly those that would effectively secure a necessary home loan, are hard to come by.

Twenty-somethings have a variety of hurdles before them that make homeownership a dream not for today but for the future. The past decade has taught consumers the reality that the economy and real estate market are not as predictable as some once thought.

With homeownership not being a realistic option, so many consumers are turning to home and apartment rental as their way to live. No loan is necessary to get into a rental, and renting also makes it easier for these young individuals or families to move where they might need to be should job or educational opportunities arise.

Right now, low-risk is an appealing quality to many consumers when it comes to their homes. The foreclosure crisis has been tough to witness and served as a warning to consumers and lenders. Someday in the future, homeownership will hopefully be within more people’s grasp.

Source: NPR, “Generation Rent: Slamming Door of Home Ownership,” Scott Neuman, June 7, 2012