Throughout most of the three decades from 1969 to 1999, approximately 63 percent to 66 percent of U.S. households were homeowners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At the end of that period, the homeownership rate broke its historical bounds and climbed to 67 percent. In the next 10 years, the rate rose to 68 percent and then 69 percent. Much of this rise in homeownership was driven by government policies. Homeowners have been rewarded with sizable income-tax deductions for mortgage interest and property tax, and the tax code also all but eliminated capital gains tax on the sale of a principal residence.The result was a nation of property flippers who pocketed hundreds of thousands of tax-free dollars. Add an ocean of easy money and we had what looked like a lot of proud, happy new homeowners. The people who earn their living from real property sales naturally were ecstatic: Homebuilding boomed. Realty and mortgage brokers earned some serious money. Real estate investment ...
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