Is Renting The New American Dream?

For the last half-century, Hollywood has idealized the American Dream - owning a home with a white-picket fence.

But these days there's a new definition of "home sweet home," reports CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes. Lynn and Luke Maxcy's dream is to rent a nice apartment in Los Angeles.

"I don't know if the American Dream is to rent forever, but definitely it works for us right now," said Lynn.

During the first quarter of this year, the percentage of households headed by homeowners had its sharpest decline in two decades, while the number of people choosing to rent soared.

Right now, renting is red hot.

"We'll call on a place and somebody will say, 'Yeah, we'll show it to you' and then we'll call back the next day to set it up and they say 'Oh sorry, we've already rented that,' " said Luke.

At Westsiderentals.com, an online Los Angeles rental search service, owner Mark Verge says his market is exploding.

"[There are] enormous amounts of renters coming through here that we haven't seen before. People of all ages that used to be home buyers."

The increasingly unstable housing market and continuing foreclosures have turned even those with the means to buy toward the rental market.

"Rent is no longer a four-letter word, and for many people that's a very attractive and very rational option," said Nic Retsinas, executive director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

But for those forced into this competitive rental market by foreclosure, the going is tough. Landlords are now more likely to reject potential renters with bad credit scores.

"You can't just go in and say 'I want this apartment.' It doesn't work that way," said Verges. "You have to go in and tell them you're making a commitment with this owner."

For the Maxcy's, their decision to rent is simple.

"It's nice to know you have to only pay rent and anything else that happens is somebody else's responsibility," said Luke.

Because right now, they don't want the responsibility of owning anything in this volatile housing market.
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