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Report: Homeownership at Lowest Rate in Nearly 50 Years

August 30, 2012

Report: Homeownership at Lowest Rate in Nearly 50 Years

Whether by choice or circumstance, it seems fewer and fewer people are sharing in the American dream.

A report released Monday from John Burns Real Estate Consulting revealed that the “real” homeownership rate—measured as the percentage of households that own a home and are not seriously delinquent on their mortgage—has fallen to 62.1 percent, the lowest level in almost half a century.

The firm said that the Census Bureau’s 65.5 percent homeownership estimate was a vast overestimate, as it includes 3.8 million homeowners who are 90 or more days delinquent.

While the government and various lenders have taken steps to help struggling homeowners, John Burns Real Estate forecasted that those people are “really just renters in waiting.”

The spread between published and real homeownership rates has historically stayed slightly below 1.0 percentage point. That spread has widened in recent years for several reasons, including the economic downturn and the growing number of borrowers who have figured out how to keep their homes for an extended period without paying.

Adding to the widening gap are banks’ understaffing and fears of improperly documenting the foreclosure process, problems that have delayed foreclosures but not prevented them.

While the firm remains confident in the shared dream of homeownership, writer and John Burns Real Estate manager Sean Fergus said it’s time to face facts.

“In summary, let’s stop pretending that 65.5 percent of Americans own their own, recognize that the real number is 62.1 percent, and move forward with responsible mortgage programs that allow Americans to achieve the American dream,” Fergus wrote.

via Report: Homeownership at Lowest Rate in Nearly 50 Years.

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