For decades, home ownership has symbolized the fulfillment of the American dream. Towards that end, the government and the housing and mortgage industries have encouraged most of us to believe we could and should have our own plot of land and a picket fence — and not only to provide shelter but also as the best possible financial investment one could make. But over the last few years, in the face of a home foreclosure crisis and significantly dropping real estate values, the conventional wisdom that home ownership is better than renting is being debated. Is the American dream of home ownership still a goal worth pursuing or a thing of the past? Our guest is Wharton professor JOSEPH GYOURKO.