Homeownership Rate May Have Hit Bottom in 2013

The homeownership rate ended 2013 at 65.2%, which is the lowest fourth-quarter rate since 1995, according to a new government report. But the rate did not go below 65% during 2013, which is a good sign.

The Census Bureau reported Friday that the current homeownership rate is lower than the 65.4% rate in 4Q 2012 and the 66% rate in 4Q 2011. During the housing boom, the homeownership rate hit a high of 69.2%.

The yearend report shows no increase in the homeownership rate for age groups generally considered first-time buyers.

The homeownership rate among households under 35 years of age was 36.8% at yearend, compared to 37.1% in 4Q 2012.

In the 35- to 44-year age group, the homeownership rate was 60.9% at yearend, up from 60.4% in 4Q 2012.

Friday’s report also shows that the number of vacant homes for sale rose to 1.6 million in 4Q up 8% from the prior quarter and up 6% from a year ago.

This increase in inventory could signal that investor appetite for distressed properties is slowing.

The median asking sales price for a vacant house in 4Q 2013 was $141,000, up from $137,000 a year ago. The median asking rent for a vacant unit was $746, up from $724 in 4Q 2012.

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