Since the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006, the homeownership rate in the United States has slumped, the number of homeowners has fallen, and the number of renters has surged. Will these trends continue, or will homeownership make a comeback? That's what the Joint Center for Housing Studies wanted to know. To answer the question, JCHS researchers created three sets of housing tenure projections to determine the range of possible homeownership trends through 2035.
1. Base scenario: According to this scenario, if homeownership rates by five-year cohort remain at 2015 levels, then the homeownership rate in 2035 will be almost identical to the 63.5 percent of 2015. But even with the same rates, the number of homeowners will grow more than the number of renters during the 2015-to-2035 time period, largely because of the aging of the population. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of homeowners would expand by 15.7 million and the number of renters by 9.4 million.
2. Low scenario: In this scenario, homeownership rates continue to decline until 2020 at the same rate of decline as occurred for five-year cohorts between 2010 and 2015, then remain constant through 2035. The additional years of declining rates would drive the overall homeownership rate down to 60.6 percent by 2035. The number of homeowners would increase, but not as much as renters. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of homeowners would expand by 11.5 million and the number of renters by a larger 13.5 million.
3. High scenario: In this scenario, homeownership rates for five-year cohorts recover and by 2035 return to the 1995 rates for most cohorts. The 1995 rates, say the researchers, "define the pre-boom levels that might reflect a longer-term equilibrium." The overall homeownership rate would rise slightly to 64.7 percent by 2035. The number of homeowners would grow much more than the number of renters. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of homeowners would expand by 17.7 million and the number of renters by 7.4 million.
Which of these scenarios is most likely? The fate of the housing market is at stake, with developers of rental housing poised to benefit from the low scenario and homeowners themselves poised to benefit from the high scenario. You decide.
Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Homeowner Households and the U.S. Homeownership Rate: Tenure Projections for 2015–2035