The U.S. Census Bureau announced in a report released today that the percentage of Americans who own their own homes was 66.4% in the third quarter of 2014 – down from 64.7 percent in the previous quarter.
After peaking at 69.2 percent in June 2004, the rate has repeatedly fallen since then due to the financial crisis and home foreclosures. More recently, while the economy has slowly recovered, entry-level buyers have struggled to purchase or build homes due to slow wage growth and the toughened mortgage standards still in place since the initial crisis.
Economists continue to be mixed as to the outlook from here. With demand for rentals soaring, this is a trend that could continue as Americans look away from home ownership and towards the flexibility offered by rentals. Others see a more optimistic forecast for home ownership rates over the long run, as low interest rates coupled by lower unemployment rates raise buyers’ confidence to return back to owning a home.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the share of first-time buyers was 29 percent in September (and the same rate in the previous three quarters), compared to approximately 40 percent historically – this may suggest room for further growth.