1940 marks a pivotal moment on the U.S. Homeownership Rate graph: looking to a post-war America, architects, designers, and planners saw home as the foundation to national growth and betterment.
The Veterans Administration Mortgage Program guaranteed low down payments and an increased loan-to-mortgage ratio to returning soldiers, which accounted for significant bump in homeownership during the decades following World War II.
In addition to this amendment of the G.I. Bill, homeownership grew rapidly in the post-WWII era due to the increase in incomes caused by the strong expansion of the U.S. economy and the new institution of affordable, long-term, fixed-rate, self-amortizing mortgages.[i]
The subsidy of homeownership at the end of World War II reaffirmed American rights to those who had fought for the ideals of freedom and liberty and the country transformed from a nation of urban renters to suburban homeowners.
Serving as a testament to this is the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
In this film, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, a man and his wife decide they can afford to have a house in the country built to their specifications… though it turns out to be a lot more trouble than they think.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home appeared in Life Magazine in April 1946 after which it was published as a novel and then adapted for the screen.
As a promotion for the film, the studio built 73 “dream houses” in various locations in the United States, most of which were equipped with General Electric appliances.[ii]
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (besides being a highly entertaining movie) engages in a fascinating discourse that encompasses issues of homeownership, national identity, consumerism, popular culture, postwar planning (or reconversion), and so much more…
Written by Marieke Van Der Steenhoven
University of Southern Maine, American and New England Studies