Wednesday, February 03, 2021

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2020

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2020: 49.2%

Homeownership rates in the 4th quarter of 2020 have fallen from the stratospheric heights reached in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020—when the coronavirus pandemic greatly reduced the response rate to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) and consequently distorted homeownership trends. The 79 percent response rate in the 4th quarter was still below the 83 percent average, reports the Census Bureau. But it was well above the 2nd and 3rd quarter response rates of 70 and 71 percent, respectively. 

It will take time before there is certainty that the HVS homeownership statistics once again reflect reality. But the 4th quarter numbers appear to be closing in on reality. The overall homeownership rate in the 4th quarter of 2020 was 65.8 percent, 0.7 percentage points higher than the 65.1 percent homeownership rate in the 4th quarter of 2019. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds (the age group in which householders typically buy their first home) has been surprisingly stable over the four quarters of 2020 (48.0, 49.1, 50.1, and 49.2). Note that the 50.1 percent homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds in the 3rd quarter of 2020 was the first time since 2011 that their rate has exceeded 50 percent. Will the age group firmly reclaim its position as the nation's first-time homebuyers in 2021? We'll have to wait and see. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

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