In my family, home ownership was not just talked about as a dream, but also as an imperative. I remember a lot of lessons my parents taught me. One that rings in my head is “own land.” My dad had two bedrock pieces of advice he told my sister and me repeatedly: Always keep some kind of job and if you have the chance to buy some land, buy the land.

For a long time I just thought it was tied into the whole American Dream thing. My parents were born during the Depression to parents who didn’t have a lot of education but who worked really, really hard.