Markets & Economy

Here’s the best news yet for housing recovery

The rate of homeownership has stopped its straight-line collapse and may have begun to rise

The Census Bureau has confirmed good news: The rate of homeownership has stopped its straight-line collapse and may have begun to rise. At the peak of the bubble, ownership topped at an unprecedented 69.2 percent of U.S. households, four percentage points above the prior record in 1980. The more common, stable reading in the last 50 years has been between 64 percent and 65 percent. We’ve now found at least new stability at 63.5 percent. The vertiginous free-fall since 2005 had me scared. I thought we were going to drop all the way to 60 percent, or even lower for two reasons. First, mortgage underwriting is still incredibly tight compared to any time from the 1960s until the Bubble began to inflate ca. 2000. I feared that far too many households would be shut out by that over-tightening, and prevent a general housing recovery. Second, I thought the youth set, 25-40 had been crippled by the Great Recession, runaway costs of health care, tuition, and student loans. A fr...