For all the talk of the housing bust leaving American consumers disillusioned with owning a home, the country’s homeownership rate has emerged largely unscathed, according to the latest quarterly data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of the nation’s homes—including houses, condos, and apartments—65.5% were owner-occupied in mid-2012, with 34.5% occupied by renters, according to Census data. Those numbers fall in line with trends seen since 1995, when the homeownership rate topped 65% for the first time since 1981. Since that time, the rate has ranged from 65% to a little over 69%, with a peak of 69.2% in 2004.
The Census Bureau’s data reflects the same trend found in a recent study conducted by economists at the Boston Federal Reserve, which found that the housing bust did not change attitudes about homeownership for the two-thirds of Americans who did not sustain a significant personal loss from the crash. Of the one-third of the study’s sample who either suffered a significant loss or had someone close to them suffer a loss, real changes in attitude about the benefits of homeownership were largely relegated to those younger than 58 years old.
"We argue that merely possessing information about an adverse event is not enough to change behavior—rather, something like direct experience is required to change an individual’s confidence in homeownership," the authors wrote in "Shifting Confidence in Homeownership: The Great Recession", which was published June 24.
In every state, the Census Bureau found homeownership rates above 50%; and of the country’s 3,141 counties, 98.5% showed homeowners outpacing renters, according to 2010 data, the latest year for which county numbers are available. More than a third of all counties boasted at least a 75% owner-occupancy rate.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.