Just about everyone's heard of the hordes of harried home buyers competing for a limited number of homes on the market. But in spite of the bidding wars that knock out so many would-be buyers, the homeownership rate is once again ticking up.
The annual homeownership rate hit about 63.9% in 2017—up from about 63.4% a year earlier, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report. The last time it went up was from 2003 to 2004. (Realtor.com® averaged the Census' quarterly rates to come up with the annual numbers.)
Homeownership rates are creeping back up because they finally bottomed out, says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com. "After eight years of recovery, home buyers have employment and confidence that they will keep their jobs, so that they can now take the plunge into homeownership.”
A stronger economy, fewer foreclosures, and more millennials starting families and entering the home-buying market are also giving rates a boost. Millennials are a larger generation than Gen X, so what they do can have a larger impact on the housing market.
For example, millennial homeownership nudged up 1.3% annually fourth quarter over fourth quarter, according to the report. But homeownership rises with age.
Only 36% of millennials owned their abodes in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with 58.9% of those between the ages of 35 and 44 and 69.5% of those aged 45 to 54. Homeownership was at 75.3% for folks aged 55 to 64 and at 79.2% for those 65 and up.
There were regional differences, too. In the more affordable parts of the country, homeownership is highest.
The Midwest had the highest rates, where about 68.7% of folks owned the deed to their abodes in the fourth quarter of 2017. The region was followed by the South, at 65.8%; the Northeast, at 60.6%; and the West, at 60%.
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