Homeownership, thought by many to be a certain victim of the foreclosure crisis, weathered a record year of foreclosures without losing a beat…statistically speaking.
The Census Bureau reported today that the homeownership rate at 67.2 (+ 0.5) percent for the last quarter of 2009 was “not statistically different” from the fourth quarter 2008 rate (67.5 percent), but it was lower than the third quarter’s rate
(67.6 percent). When seasonally adjusted, though, the decline from third to fourth quarter was only .1 percent, also with the margin of error. Standard errors for quarterly homeownership rates for the United States generally are 0.3 percent. At the end of the year, there were 75,038,000 owners and 36,673,000 renters.
Census also reported a small rise in vacant homes, but the current rate (2.7 percent) was not statistically different from the fourth quarter 2008 rate (2.9 percent) or from the rate last quarter (2.6 percent).
A flood of first-time buyers motivated by low prices, low interest rates and the Federal tax credit, may have offset the exodus of foreclosure victims who left homeownership behind.
Homeownership rates are higher in a number of countries, including Ireland (77 percent), Norway (77 percent), Spain (85 percent), Israel (71 percent) and Belgium (71 percent), than in the U.S.
The all-time high U.S. homeownership rate was 69.1 percent in the first quarter of 2005.