Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First-time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter, 2012

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2012: 48.6%

The homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 climbed by a substantial 1.7 percentage points between the third and fourth quarters of 2012, reaching 48.6 percent. Although this rate is well below the 50 percent threshold and 1 percentage point lower than a year earlier, nevertheless the increase is a bit of good news for a housing market that faces dismal demographics—downsizing boomers and indebted young adults. The homeownership rate in the nation as whole was 65.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, which was 0.6 percentage points below the 66.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group is the bellwether for the housing industry. Historically, the majority of householders have become homeowners in their early thirties. That is no longer the case as adults in their early thirties--many burdened by student loans--cannot afford to buy a home. In 2011, the annual homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group fell below 50 percent (to 48.9 percent) for the first time in the data series, which dates back to 1982.

It may be the homeownership rate is bottoming out among 30-to-34-year-olds. Such is not the case with the next older age groups. The steepest drops in the homeownership rate between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012 occurred among householders aged 35 to 39 (down 1.9 percentage points to 56.5 percent) and 40 to 44 (down 2.1 percentage points to 63.7 percent).

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

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