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U.S. Homeownership Rate Drops to 53-Year Low

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its 2020 Census Demographic Profile and Demographic and Housing Characteristics File (DHC), a data set from the 2020 Census that adds more detail to the nation’s population count, and basic demographic and housing statistics previously released for the purposes of congressional apportionment and legislative redistricting.

Of the 126.8 million occupied housing units reported in 2020, 80.1 million (63.1%) were owner-occupied, representing the nation’s homeownership rate. The 2020 rate was the lowest reported since 1970, having decreased by two percentage points since 2010, when it was 65.1%. In 2020, 46.8 million (36.9%) of the occupied housing units nationwide were renter-occupied, and renter-occupied units increased 14.8% from 40.7 million in 2010 to 46.8 million in 2020.

The growth of renter-occupied units outpaced the growth of owner-occupied units, as it also did between 2000 and 2010.

“These statistics belong to the American people. Thank you for your participation in the census and encouraging your friends, neighbors, and community to respond. We’re giving these data back to you now to understand and benefit your community,” said Census Bureau Director Robert L. Santos. “The 2020 Census data will serve as an important baseline for years to come for our annual surveys and population estimates, and in the community planning and funding decisions taking place around the nation.”

The newly released 2020 Census data products go beyond the data already available on the total population, the voting-age (age 18 and older) population, race, Hispanic origin, and housing occupancy. This release contains more detailed age groups, the first data available on sex from the 2020 Census, information on families and households, and more detail on housing. They also show the intersection of many of these topics by race and Hispanic origin.

Only five states experienced an increase in their homeownership rate between 2010 and 2020, with Hawaii seeing the largest percentage-point increase (1.2%), followed by Alaska (0.8%), Idaho (0.5%), South Carolina (0.4%), and Wyoming (0.1%). West Virginia and Maine reported the highest homeownership rates in 2020 at 72.6% and 71.1%, respectively, while the District of Columbia reported a lower homeownership rate (38.3%) than all 50 states.

Among the top 10 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas with the highest homeownership rates, three were in Florida, and three were in Michigan. The Florida areas with the highest homeownership rates were The Villages (88.3%), Homosassa Springs (82.1%), and Punta Gorda (81.3%). Michigan’s high homeownership areas included Holland (82.5%), Iron Mountain (79.6%), and Traverse City (79.3%).

By race, homeownership rates were highest among White (70.5%) householders followed by Asian (58.5%) householders and Multiracial (54.2%) householders. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander householders reported the lowest homeownership rate (39.6%) in 2020.

Nationally, the homeowner vacancy rate—defined as the proportion of the homeowner housing inventory as vacant for sale—in 2020 was 1.5%, a decrease of 0.9 percentage points from 2010, when the rate was 2.4%. All but three states experienced a decline in their homeowner vacancy rates. Nevada (-3.7%), Arizona (-2.2%), Idaho (-1.9%), Georgia (-1.8%), and Florida (-1.8%) had the largest percentage-point decreases.

In 2020, the national rental vacancy rate fell to 7.4%, down from 9.2% in 2010. Of the metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas with the 10 largest household populations, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas region, had the highest rental vacancy rate at 10.4%, and was the only one with a rate greater than 10.0% in 2020.

There were a reported 4.4 million U.S. vacant units in 2020 classified as “vacant–for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use,” down from 4.6 million in 2010. As in 2010, Florida was still the leader among states in the number of these units. The 667,000 homes in Florida accounted for 15.3% of the nation’s seasonal, recreational or occasional use units in 2020. Florida was followed by California (295,000), New York (248,000), Michigan (243,000), and Texas (192,000).

The 2020 Census also provided data on U.S. households, defined as all the people living in a housing unit, including people living alone, or in families (two or more people living together related by birth, marriage, or adoption), including:

  • Over one-quarter (27.6%) of occupied U.S. households consisted of one person living alone, up from 7.7% in 1940.
  • 7.2% of family households were multigenerational.
  • 6.1 million or 8.4% of children under age 18 lived in their grandparents’ home, up from 5.8 million (7.9%) in 2010.
  • Over half (53.2%) of U.S. households were coupled households, those in which the householder has a spouse or partner living with them.
  • Same-sex couples made up 1.7% of coupled households.
  • The majority (89.1%) of the 323.2 million people living in U.S. households were either the householder, their spouse or partner or their children.
  • Family households accounted for about two-thirds of all U.S. households, as they did in 2010.
  • The majority (71%) of family households were married couples.
  • There were 126.8 million households, up 8.7% from 116.7 million in 2010.

Also taken into account and broken down in the 2020 Census was information on the population in group quarters—defined as places where people live or stay in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by organizations providing housing or services for the residents. They include places such as college residence halls, group homes, military barracks, emergency and transitional shelters, and correctional facilities.

Group quarters population data available in the DHC include:

  • Tables by sex and broad age categories (under 18 years, 18 to 64 years, 65 years and over) down to the census block.
  • Tables by race and Hispanic origin down to the census tract.
  • Tables by sex and age for some specific group quarters types down to the census tract.
  • Tables by sex and five-year age categories for major group quarters types such as college/university student housing and military quarters down to the county.

Click here for more information on the 2020 Census Demographic Profile and Demographic and Housing Characteristics File.

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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