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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

U.S. Homeownership Rate at 15-year Low

U.S. homeownership rate at 15-year low

May 1, 2012

High foreclosure rates and a strong rental market pushed the homeownership rate in the U.S. to a 15-year low, even as projections for the housing market grew brighter.
The 65.4% rate in the first quarter is down from the 66% rate in the fourth quarter and 66.4% in the first quarter of last year, according to the Census Bureau. Before the housing bubble burst, homeownership reached a high of 69.2% in 2004.
The current rate is low compared with the last decade partly because earlier homeownership rates were inflated by people who hadn't made down payments and were really "renters with an option to buy," said Richard K. Green, director of USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate.
In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the homeownership rate stayed roughly in the mid-60% range, Green said.
"We were getting numbers up toward 70% that just didn't make any sense," he said. "If the number goes below 64%, it'll be something to be alarmed about. But above that — we're just going back to where we should be."

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