In 2000 (a very normal housing year without a bubble), with virtually no discussion of it in the media or in the academic community, 67 percent of Americans lived as a homeowning household. Then came the easy credit conditions which fueled home buying beyond normal and the ownership rate rose to 69 percent. But the subsequent bust brought the ownership rate down to today’s 66 percent.
Not all age groups had similar experiences throughout this cycle. The very young were mildly impacted. The very old did not on average feel any pain – at least according to the statistics, though no doubt there were some retirees who painfully lost a home to a foreclosure. The big impact was felt among people in their 30’s, who have much the same homeownership rate today as back in 2000, well before the bubble. It is also this group where there is potential for re-entering into the homeownership market in the near future.
Also note the general higher ownership rate as people get older and more mature and presumably become more responsible. Note the very high ownership rate among the 65-and-over population, who would have for the large part already paid off their mortgages.