Homeownership Rate Declines to the Lowest Since 1995

Mortgage & Real Estate

The homeownership rate 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% in the first quarter, down from 65.2% 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%.

“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, said yesterday that the rate will fall to as low as 55% because more Americans are choosing to rent as they postpone getting married and having children. As of 2010, about 54% of adults were married, down from 57% a decade earlier, according to Census Bureau data.

“The deferral of marriage has such a staggering impact on real estate and I just don’t think people focus on it,” Zell said at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I don’t think the multifamily market has ever had a better set of future demographics.”

The homeownership rate for all Americans peaked at 69.2% in June 2004, according to the Census Bureau.

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