Home ownership in the U.S. at 18-year low
American dream fizzling long after construction bust
Americans who owned their own homes were at an all-time high back in 2004. More than 69 percent of families in the U.S. could make the claim that their homes were theirs. After the housing construction boom went bust, however, U.S. home ownership rates are back to the low they experienced two decades ago.
The rate for black home ownership reached almost 50 percent in the second quarter of 2004 from about 43 percent in 1995, Census Bureau data show.
With home ownership currently at 65 percent and home values rising, housing industry and consumer groups have asked lawmakers to make the American Dream more inclusive by ensuring new mortgage standards. Lawmakers are now seeking standards to prevent another crash with laws that are flexible enough so more families can benefit from the recovery.
Those tailoring housing finance wish to reduce the government's role in keeping rates affordable for riskier borrowers. At the same time, they want to ensure home ownership is within reach of minorities and first-time buyers.
According to Anthony Sanders, a professor of real estate finance at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia, those able to buy property will depend on the balance they reach,
"Low down-payment loans coupled with exotic adjustable rate mortgages helped fuel a massive housing bubble, which ultimately burst and took down the financial sector," Sanders says, the former head of mortgage-bond research at Deutsche Bank AG. "So the question now is do we want to do this again?"
The home ownership rate in the second quarter was unchanged from the prior three month period. According to analysis by London-based Capital Economics Inc., ownership will hit bottom at about 64 percent in the next year as families leave the foreclosure pipeline and enter rental homes.
The figures are the lowest in almost 18 years after averaging about 64 percent for 30 years through 1995. First-time buyers and minorities are among the groups that have seen the sharpest declines since the crash.
Property ownership among senior citizens was little changed at about 81 percent, the share below age 35 that own a home fell to about 37 percent from almost 42 percent five years earlier.
The rate for blacks reached almost 50 percent in the second quarter of 2004 from about 43 percent in 1995, Census Bureau data show. By the second quarter of this year, it had dropped to 42.9 percent. The rate for whites fell to 73.3 percent in the second quarter, from 76.2 percent in 2004.
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