Home ownership is at a 48-year low, driven in part by a shocking pattern of foreclosure that put 9.4 million out of their homes during the recent recession, according to a Harvard survey.
In its "State of the Nation's Housing 2016," Harvard said that "the U.S. homeownership rate has tumbled to its lowest level in nearly a half-century."
Figures from the St. Louis Fed showed a homeownership rate of 63.5 percent. The last time it was lower was in 1967.
The Harvard Joint Center on Housing Studies report put a focus on foreclosures.
"A critical but often overlooked factor is the role of foreclosures in depleting the ranks of homeowners. Indeed, CoreLogic estimates that more than 9.4 million homes (the majority owner-occupied) were forfeited through foreclosures, short sales, and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure from the start of the housing crash in 2007 through 2015," said the report.
The report also noted that the number of people using at least 30 percent of their income for housing rose, as our Joseph Lawler reported this week. It said, "40.9 million Americans, both homeowners and renters, spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, including 19.8 million who spend over half of their income for housing."
At the same time, said Harvard, the drive for the American Dream has been braked by low incomes, higher prices and bad credit.
"Just as exits from homeownership have been high, transitions to owning have been low. Tight mortgage credit is one explanation, with essentially no home purchase loans made to applicants with subprime credit scores (below 620) since 2010 and a sharp retreat in lending to applicants with scores of 620–660 compared with the early 2000s. And given that the homeownership rate tends to move in tandem with incomes, the 18 percent drop in real incomes among 25–34 year olds and the 9 percent decline among 35–44 year olds between 2000 and 2014 no doubt played a part as well."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org