Monday, March 09, 2009

Is Homeownership Declining?

Yes, the homeownership rate is down. According to the the latest numbers from the Census Bureau, 67.8 percent of households owned a home in 2008, down from 68.1 percent in 2007--a small decline, considering all the ink that has been spilled over the housing crisis. The 2008 homeownership rate remains close to the record high of 69.0 percent reached in 2004 and still exceeds the 67.4 percent of 2000.

Homeownership fell in most age groups, but not by much. The biggest decline occurred among householders aged 30 to 34. Many were first-time homebuyers who bit off more than they could chew during the housing bubble and have been forced to give up the dream of homeownership for now.

The biggest lesson to be learned in the statistics on homeownership is the comforting stability of demographics, which offer a way to approach the future that is resistant to "black swans" (unanticipated radical change, a term popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book The Black Swan). In the absence of natural disasters such as Katrina, demographic trends offer a stability that is sorely needed as Americans confront a chaotic economy.

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