Homeownership rate drops, first time in over two years

NEW YORK – April 26, 2019 – The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that the U.S. homeownership rate dropped for the first time in more than two years. In the first quarter of 2019, it fell to 64.2 percent from 64.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The homeownership rate had been on an upswing since the beginning of 2017, following more than a decade of declines, and before last quarter’s drop was drawing near to its historic average of around 65 percent.

First-time buyers “are hitting a bit of an affordability ceiling here,” says Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow.

First-time buyers have driven the homeownership increase in in recent years, but some of the steepest decreases in the first quarter were younger buyers recorded.

The homeownership rate for households headed by someone under 35 years old slipped to 35.4 percent from 36.5 percent the quarter before, and to 60.3 percent from 61.1 percent among households headed by someone age 35 to 44.

However, experts say that the homeownership rate is volatile, and it’s too soon to sound any alarms. It would take several straight quarters of decreases to indicate that owning a home is once again in decline.

On a year-over-year basis, the homeownership rate was virtually unchanged.

Source: Wall Street Journal (04/25/19) Kusisto, Laura

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