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Home rentals – the new American Dream?

GILBERT, Ariz. – Steve and Jodi Jacobson bought their Phoenix-area “dream home” in 2005. They built flagstone steps to the front door. They tiled the kitchen and bathroom. They entertained often, enjoying their mountain views.

“We put our soul into that house,” says Steve Jacobson, 37.

Then, home prices tanked more than 50%. Steve, a software quality assurance engineer, suffered pay cuts. In 2010, foreclosure claimed the home and their $100,000 down payment.

The Jacobsons didn’t lose their desire to live in a single-family home, however. They now rent one, like many other former homeowners displaced by foreclosure.

But unlike traditional apartment renters, this breed of American tenants are older and have kids, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate. As they move from homes they owned to ones they rent, they’re changing neighborhoods for better and for worse. They’re fueling a land-rush as investors snap up homes, mostly in markets hard-hit by foreclosure, to rent to them. And their growth — in cities from Florida to California — has implications for home builders, school districts and companies that will jockey for the dollars they used to invest in homes, predict Wall Street analysts and demographic researchers.

To view the entire article, visit the USA TODAY page here.

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