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Why are Homeownership Rates Falling?


InventoryDespite all signs pointing toward a growing housing sector—record-low mortgage rates, strong refinance activity, and falling interest rates—information from Axios shows homeownership rates are dropping across the board.  [1]

From 2002 to 2018, the homeownership rate for ages 35-64 have fallen, and some by nearly 10%. 

“The homeownership rate started to decline in 2004–2005 in the middle of the housing boom. For all the record issuance of subprime mortgages, option ARMs and NINJA loans, the rate declined, at almost exactly the same rate at which it continued to deteriorate during the worst years of the financial crisis,” says the report. “Even the post-crisis recovery didn't change things. Only in the past couple of years have homeownership rates ticked up a tiny bit.”

Axios revealed that the homeownership rate for those younger than 35 fell from 43% in 2004 to 36% in 2018. The 35-44-year-old age group decline from its peak at 69% in 2005, to 60% last year. 

The homeownership rate for those aged 45-54 fell from 77% in 2004 to 70% in 2018, and those aged 55-64 saw a decline in homeownership from 2004’s 82% to 2018’s 75%. 

A report by CNN [2]stated existing home sales fell 1.7% from May and had a 2.2% year-over-year drop, which is on par with home sales from 2015.

Making matters worse for prospective buyers, is that prices for homes continued to rise, according to CoreLogic’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index (HPI), [3] which reported home prices grew 3.4% in May 2019.

“Growth in home prices, as measured by the Case-Shiller HPI, began to stabilize in May.  The more than 100 basis point decrease in mortgage rates since November has revived home sales and given buyers additional purchasing power in the market,” said Tian Liu, Chief Economist at Genworth Mortgage Insurance. “That extra purchasing power is beginning to show up in home prices.”

The Mortgage Banks Association announced the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to its lowest level since November 2016, as the average rate on a loan lower than $484,350 is 4.01%. 

Along with crippling student debt and an exodus from out of rural areas and into urban settings, one of the issues identified in the report was the falling minority homeownership rate. 

Homeownership rates for African-Americans and Hispanics are under 50%, according to the report.

“As America becomes increasingly nonwhite, the culture will continue to move away from the homeownership ideal,” the report said.