For timely information on homeownership rates, the standard reference is the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), which releases information for the U.S. on a quarterly basis. On an annual basis, the HVS also provides homeownership rates for the 75 largest metropolitan areas. This information can be quite useful, but smaller areas may have particularly high homeownership rates or otherwise be of interest.
Also, the metropolitan areas in the HVS are entire Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), which can obscure important differences within some of the larger metros. The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island MSA, for example, covers the five boroughs of New York City, all of Long Island, extends well into New Jersey, and even includes a county in Pennsylvania. An area this large may easily have significant sub-areas with different homeownership rates.
For less timely data but more geographic detail, the standard source is the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). In a recent study, NAHB used the latest (2010) ACS data to calculate homeownership rates for all MSAs in the country, breaking the eleven largest their component divisions (the government’s classification scheme often splits MSAs with a population of at least 2.5 million into “Metropolitan Divisions”). The ten metros with the highest homeownership rates are shown below. Palm Coast, Florida tops the list with a homeownership rate of 81.5%.
Most of the ten high-homeownership areas are relatively small in terms of population—eight have a population of under 100,000. Most also have relatively moderate home prices— eight have a median home value of less than $175,000. Nassau-Suffolk, New York stands out as an area that combines a relatively high rate of homeownership with a population of over 900,000 and a median home value of over $400,000.
Nassau-Suffolk is a Metropolitan Division within the larger The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island MSA. An adjacent Division in the same MSA ( New York-White Plains-Wayne Division) has the lowest homeownership rate of any metro in the country—39.5%.
Homeownership is only one of many possible statistics that may be used to evaluate a local housing market. The NAHB study also shows the number of owner-occupied housing units; home owner vacancy rate; share of single-family detached homes; value of homes owned; home owner incomes; growth in stock of single-family detached homes; and share of homes built recently for each of 384 metro areas, all available in a single spreadsheet.