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Homeownership Rate Rises Again in 2018

Monday, July 1, 2019

From Cheryl Russell for Demo Memo

One year ago the nation’s homeownership rate posted its first increase in more than a decade. At the time, Demo Memo asked, “Could it be the start of a trend?”

One year later and the answer is – complicated. The homeownership rate is continuing to rise, climbing to 64.4% in 2018, according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVC). This is 1.0 percentage point higher than the post-Great Recession low of 63.4% recorded in 2016. Despite the increase, however, the 2018 homeownership rate remains relatively low. It is the fourth lowest rate of the 2000s (surpassing only the rates in 2015, 2016, and 2017).

Homeownership rate for selected years

  • 2018: 64.4%
  • 2017: 63.9%
  • 2016: 63.4% (post Great Recession low)
  • 2015: 63.7%
  • 2010: 66.9%
  • 2004: 69.0% (all-time peak)
  • 2000: 67.4%
  • 1990: 63.9%
  • 1980: 65.6%
  • 1970: 64.2%

But perhaps comparing today’s homeownership rate with the pumped-up rates of the housing bubble does not provide the necessary perspective. It might be more instructive to compare the 2018 rate to homeownership rates prior to the housing bubble.

During the 30-year span from 1970 to 2000, the homeownership rate ranged from a low of 63.8% in 1988 to a high of 66.8% in 1999. The average rate during the time period was 64.7%, almost identical to the 64.4% of 2018. This exercise suggests, then, that today’s homeownership rate is not the new normal. It’s the old normal.

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