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U.S. homeownership climbs on millennial surge


The U.S. homeownership rate hit a four-year high in the second quarter on a surge in millennial homeownership, but the troubling low rates for black and Hispanic Americans have worsened, U.S. Census Bureau data indicates.

fredbloghome(1)Seasonally adjusted, the overall U.S. rate clocked in at 64.4 percent (or 64.3 percent without adjustment), up 10 basis points from the first quarter and the highest level since the second quarter of 2014 (64.8 percent).

The homeownership rate for millennials hit the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2013. The rate for buyers under the age of 35 clocked in at 36.5 percent, up 1.2 percentage points from the first quarter.

Black and Hispanic rates fell, however.

The black homeownership rate dropped 60 basis points to 41.6 percent, a nearly two-year low. This is close to the third-quarter 2016 low point of 41.3 percent, which was the weakest black homeownership rate in 50 years.

The Hispanic homeownership rate fell 1.8 percentage points to 46.6 percent after a surge in the first quarter, and fell roughly to the same level that it averaged in 2017.

The white homeownership rate rose 50 basis points to 72.9 percent, also a four-year high. 

National Association of Realtors Lawrence Yun said the report presented a mixed message about the market. On the one hand, he said, the overall rate has been "scratching along the bottom" for several years.

"Even a decimal point increase is a welcome trend," Yun said during a telephone interview. "The fact that the younger people are getting back into the market, that is encouraging." 

He said the falling African-American homeownership rate, however, was "a very discouraging sign for society."

Yun also said the homeownership rate remains nearly 2 percentage points lower than its historic average.

"Historically, at this phase in the economic recovery, meaning consistent job creation that has been happening, the homeownership rate should be closer to about 66 percent," Yun said. "Right now we are at 64 [percent] and change, so we have a little more additional room to grow. I think we are under the 66 percent, or long-term average, because of the housing shortage and affordability challenges. We need more inventory to show up, to keep the prices more manageable. If that is the case, the homeownership rate can increase at a faster rate."  


 

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