Wednesday, April 29, 2020

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter 2020

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, first quarter 2020: 59.4%

Just as the homeownership rate was beginning to recover from the Great Recession, the coronavirus hit. The pandemic will likely dampen the homeownership rate in the months and years to come as homeowners struggle to pay their mortgage and wanna-be homeowners spend down their savings to avoid homelessness. 

The homeownership rate of the 35-to-39 age group, the nation's first-time homebuyers, climbed in the first quarter of 2020 to 59.4 percent, up from 58.3 percent a year earlier. This is the highest quarterly homeownership rate for the age group in nearly a decade—since the third quarter of 2011. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. It bottomed out at 55.0 in the fourth quarter of 2016. The rate had been trending upward since then, but coronavirus is likely to halt those gains.

What about their younger counterparts? Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation's first-time home buyers—defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds was basically unchanged in the first quarter of 2020, at  48.0 percent and not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds peaked at 55.3 percent in 2007, fell below 50 percent in 2011, and has been stuck below that level ever since. 

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 65.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, a statistically significant rise from the rate one year earlier. Don't expect the rise to continue.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

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