The U.S. homeownership rate rose a notch in the third quarter, with 66.1 percent of households owning a home – up from 66.0 percent in the prior quarter. However, the trend has clearly been downward since the bubble situation of several years ago. Just maybe, however, we’re starting to venture into sustainable homeownership, since the current ownership rate matches up with 1998 levels. Back in 1998, there was no mention of a housing bubble or unsustainability in the media or in the academic literature, so the current homeownership figures may indeed indicate the right stabilizing level for the country. Other housing data have also pointed to stabilization (though not a genuine recovery) in recent months – such as home prices, home sales, and housing starts.
If the homeownership rate stabilizes at the current 66 percent or so level then the natural increases in population (3 million a year) and households (about 1.1 million a year during normal times) in the U.S. will bring about 700,000 additional homeowners each year. Total home sales and business opportunities for REALTORS® would arise from these new set of homeowners. Not to mention the added turnover rate among the existing 75 million home owning families, which was exceptionally low in recent years, due in part both to the weak economy and to the many underwater homeowners who have been unable to move without a short-sale approval from the banks.