Homeownership at Lowest Point in Over a Decade

Libby Kane

For many people, a key part of the American dream is a home of one’s own, complete with cheery planters of petunias and a gallery wall.

Since we all know our landlord would never permit enough holes for a gallery wall, we’re going to have to own that home.

There’s good news and bad news about that.

Bad news first: Homeownership in the United States is at its lowest point in 15 years, thanks to the rash of foreclosures that force ‘delinquent’ borrowers into renting. CNN Money reports that the peak rate of homeownership in the U.S. was in 2004, when 69.2% of Americans owned their homes. Today, it’s 65.4%.

Here’s where it gets interesting: The median asking rent for the first quarter of 2012 was $721, 5.6% higher than one year ago. But the median asking sales price to buy a home over the same time period was $133,000 … $143,700 less than one year ago. Again: Rental prices are going up while sales prices go down. That’s good news!

OK, maybe it’s not such great news for the economy, but let’s take the rare opportunity to look on the bright side and realize that it can be a good thing for those of us in pursuit of petunias.

  • Joy

    The scenario of people paying higher rent despite great real estate deals is due largely in part to the difficulty of qualifying for financing.  A lot of times, people have the cash for the downpayment, but their debt-to-credit ratios and credit history are holding them back.That’s why many people (both buyers AND sellers) are turning to seller/owner financing OR lease-to-own options.  With seller financing, the buyer still receives financing, but doesn’t have to qualify with a bank, and the seller benefits greatly.  With lease to own, it’s a few years before they technically own the property, but they are already renting/leasing the property they intend to buy.  I would be interested to know how the latter, in particular, would affect the homeownership rate, if those “almost owner” numbers were added into the mix.