The homeownership rate fell slightly in the first quarter, now lingering near its lowest level in 50 years.
In the first three months of this year, the rate was at 63.5%, not seasonally adjusted, The Wall Street Journal
reported. That is down from 63.8% in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to estimates published on Thursday by the Commerce Department
. (When adjusting for seasonality, the homeownership rate in the first quarter also fell slightly to 63.6% from 63.7% in the fourth quarter of last year.)
“That puts it back near its 48-year low of 63.4% in the second quarter of 2015,” WSJ.com reported.
However, the fact that the homeownership rate is essentially flat is still good news, experts told the Journal.
“We’re not seeing significant decreases like we were two, three, five years ago,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at real-estate information company Trulia.
“It appears that factors such as rising home prices, student loans, delays in marriage and childbearing and uncertainty about buying a home as an investment are weighing on younger households and motivating them to rent instead of buy,” the Journal explained.
Homeownership hit a high of 69.4 percent in 2004, during one of the biggest housing booms in history. That was also when mortgage lending was arguably at its loosest level in history, CNBC
"Rental affordability remains a big problem in many places, and that makes it harder to save for a down payment," said Jed Kolko, an independent economist and senior fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at University of California, Berkeley.
"We're still seeing relatively few first-time homebuyers because young people are buying homes later than they used to. Some of this is a long-term shift toward marrying and having children later in life. Some of this is that the recovery has been slow among young adults."
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