US homeownership rate drops in first quarter of 2014

The homeownership rate in the United States dropped again in the beginning of 2014:

The homeownership rate in the U.S. declined to the lowest in almost 19 years as rising property prices and mortgage rates held back demand.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 64.8 percent in the first quarter, down from 65.2 percent in the previous three months, the Census Bureau said in a report today. The rate is the lowest since the second quarter of 1995, when it was 64.7 percent…

“The homeownership rate is held back by slow job growth, tight mortgage credit and declining affordability,” Jed Kolko, chief economist of San Francisco-based property-listing service Trulia Inc., said in an interview before the report was released. “We’ll see it stay around this level for some time.”

Sam Zell, chairman of apartment landlord Equity Residential (EQR), said yesterday that the rate will fall to as low as 55 percent because more Americans are choosing to rent as they postpone getting married and having children. As of 2010, about 54 percent of adults were married, down from 57 percent a decade earlier, according to Census Bureau data.

Interesting to hear economists and those in real estate suggest there are a variety of social factors affecting homeownership. Beyond the troubles of the housing market, the issues include family formation and possibly different preferences among younger Americans for where they want to live and how they want to do it.

Another interesting tidbit from this article: the homeownership peak was June 2004. This predates the housing crash by several years and is now almost 10 years ago.

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