Over the last decade, the general trend has been consistent: The rate of home ownership continues to decline. The Census Bureau has now released its latest quarterly report with data through Q4 2016. The seasonally adjusted rate for Q3 is 63.5 percent, up from 63.4 in Q3. The nonseasonally adjusted Q4 number is 63.7 percent, above the Q2 number and its highest in a year.

The Census Bureau has been tracking the nonseasonally adjusted data since 1965. Their seasonally adjusted version only goes back to 1980. Here is a snapshot of the nonseasonally adjusted series with a 4-quarter moving average to highlight the trend.

Home Ownership Rate

The consensus view is that trend away from home ownership is a result of rising residential real estate prices in general and limited supply of entry level priced homes that would attract first-time buyers.

Homeownership Rates in Other Countries

The snapshot below gives us a crude comparison of the US homeownership rate compared to seventeen other countries. Our data source is a subset of the nearly four dozen countries in this Wikipedia entry on home ownership. We included the outliers at the top and bottom, Romania at 96.4% and Switzerland at 44.0%, most as of 2015 and 2014, respectively.

Home Ownership Rate by Country

The underlying factors in the chart above are quite complex: Residential real estate affordability, financing options, household income distributions, demographics and cultural values, to mention some of the more obvious.


For additional perspectives on residential real estate, here is the complete list of our monthly updates: