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The U.S. homeownership rate has fallen

Posted by: Peter Coy on October 26, 2007

If homeownership is the American Dream, then what’s foreclosure? The American Nightmare?

In the latest issue of BusinessWeek I wrote an article called “The Housing Bust’s Latest Blow,” calling attention to the recent decline in the U.S. rate of homeownership. My story cited new research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta saying that the big boom in ownership from 1994 to 2004 was mostly related to looser lending practices rather than demographic changes in the number of households of home-buying age.

It stands to reason that as lending standards tighten up, the ownership rate will fall, and it already has. My article closed on Wednesday so I wasn’t able to include figures for the third quarter. Today, the Census Bureau came out with its numbers for the third quarter, showing that the rate stayed flat at 68.2%, vs. a peak of 69.2%. Many economists think the numbers are likely to dip even more before the housing crisis is over.

Reader Comments

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October 26, 2007 2:52 PM

Homeownership rates have artificially increased because of easy mortgage money. Now they are coming to historic averages.


October 26, 2007 6:08 PM

A good balance of owners and renters is essential to the fluidity of the economy. Those who were sold and willingly bought the American dream of home ownership bought the wrong dream. The American dream is not home ownership, it is social status progression opportunity. GOOD NEWS>


November 3, 2007 1:10 PM

i want to know what can be done about the very high rates of housing because some people are working and going to the extent of living in their cars. Also in the developing countries, many people own homes, here it is almost a miracle to own a home. what can be done? also is anybody checking the different governors of the states so as to have some form of uniformity among the states?

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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