Real Estate Market

Home ownership rate lowest in more than a decade

(11/12/2010) Erate Exclusive - The rate of home ownership is at its lowest level since 1999.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported the third quarter 2010 rate of home ownership, 66.9 percent, hasn't been lower since it hit 66.7 percent during the first quarter of 1999.

The last time the rate was at 66.9 percent was the fourth quarter of the same year.

Driven by the easy-mortgage-money era, the home ownership rate topped out at 69.2 in the fourth quarter 2004, about a year before the housing boom began to go bust, burned by the same risky business that boosted the rate.

Unimproved by flat home prices and record low interest rates, the rate of home ownership has been hammered by foreclosures, weak demand, tight credit, unemployment and an economy in slow recovery.

"New lows in mortgage rates have helped spark refinancing as well as purchase loan applications, but sluggish job creation along with tighter lending standards, resulting in fewer eligible homebuyers, will remain impediments working against a sustainable recovery in the housing market," said Nancy Osborne, chief operating officer of, a Santa Clara, CA-based financial information publisher and interest rate tracker.

Even worse, the home ownership rate was lowest in the West at 61.3 percent. The Midwest continued its run on the top position with a 71.1 percent rate of home ownership. The rate was 69.1 percent in the South and 63.9 percent in the Northeast.

Don't expect any improvements in the home ownership rate anytime soon.

The federal home buying tax credit has ended.

Nearly one-quarter, or 23.2 percent of single-family homeowners with mortgages, representing some 14 million homes, were underwater on their mortgage in the third quarter, the highest it has been since Zillow began tracking negative equity in 2009, according to Zillow.

Foreclosures are on track to number more than a million this year along, says RealtyTrac latest report.

Foreclosures, forcing prices down, prompted market analytics firm Fiserv to recast home price projections. Earlier this year it projected prices to rise 4 percent. It's last report projected a price drop of nearly 8 percent from June, 2010 to June next year.

Out-of-work or under-employed consumers simply can't afford to buy and many employed workers can't get past stiff lending requirements.

one in three Americans likely don't qualify for a mortgage and half can't get the best rate.

The Census Bureau also reported 18.8 million homes, or 14.4 percent of all houses and apartments in the nation, lie vacant.

About 2.5 percent of all primary residences are vacant and for sale and 10.3 percent of rental units are vacant.

Among regions, the rental vacancy rate was highest in the South, at 12.9 percent, followed by the Midwest's 11.5 percent rate.

Rates were lower in the West, at 8.1 percent and the Northeast at 7.4 percent.

Refinance at Today's Low Rates!


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