Home Ownership Drops to 13 Year Low

February 1, 2011 (Jeff Alan)
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The housing boom and the subsequent economic and housing crisis certainly validates that age old adage of “what goes up…must come down” as soaring home ownership during the boom years has led to 13 year lows during the bust. According to the most recent government figures, the nation’s overall home ownership rate fell to 66.5% in the fourth quarter, the lowest reading since Bill Clinton was President.

The newest figures from the Census Bureau report that homeownership is down from 66.9 percent in the third quarter. It’s the lowest home ownership rate the Bureau has reported since the fourth quarter of 1998.

Almost 86% of all U.S. housing units were occupied in the fourth quarter with 57.2% occupied by the owner and renters living in 28.8% of the occupied units. The number of units held off the market rose nearly 7% to 7,236 in the quarter. The houses account for 5.5% of all vacant properties and are off the market because of occasional use, temporarily occupied by someone who lives elsewhere, or a variety of other reasons, according to the Census Bureau.

The drop in home ownership was most pronounced among the 35-44 year-old group, dropping to 63.9 percent of all households in that age bracket, down 1.3 percentage points from 65.2 percent in the third quarter. At the same time, ownership rates for those under the age of 35 were unchanged at 39.2 percent. Older groups saw declines of 0.1 to 0.3 percentage points.

Non-Hispanic whites saw the biggest drop in home ownership rates in the fourth quarter, down one-half a percentage point to 74.2 percent. Blacks and Hispanics saw quarterly declines of 0.2 percentage points, to 44.8 and 46.8 percent, respectively, while home ownership rates for all other racial groups increased by 0.4 percentage points, to 57.7 percent.

Home ownership rates among the four major U.S. regions are the highest in the Midwest, at 70.5 percent, and lowest in the West, at 61.0 percent. Rates for the South and Northeast are 68.5 and 64.1 percent, respectively.

Tags: census bureau, housing boom, housing crisis, home ownership, occupied units, home ownership rates