Homeownership Rate Tumbles to the Lowest Since 1965

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The homeownership rate fell to the lowest level in more than 50 years as rising prices put buying out of reach for many renters.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 62.9% in the second quarter, the lowest since 1965, according to a Census Bureau report Thursday. It was the second straight quarterly decrease, down from 63.5% in the previous three months.

First-time buyers have been struggling to find affordable properties as low mortgage rates and an improving job market spur competition for a tight supply of listings. Home prices rose 5.2% in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of values in 20 cities released this week.

"One of the biggest hurdles now is affordability," Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C., said before the Census Bureau report was released. "Home prices are rising so much faster than incomes, so it's hard for buyers to save for a down payment."

The homeownership rate reached a peak of 69.2% in June 2004.

Bloomberg News