According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate declined to 64.2% in the first quarter of 2019, which is 0.6 percentage points lower than the last quarter reading of 64.8%. However, it is virtually unchanged from the first quarter of 2018. The rate of homeownership is still on an upward trend after dropping to a cycle low of 62.9% in the second quarter of 2016. Compared to the peak of 69.2% in 2004, the homeownership rate is 5 percentage points lower and remains below the 25-year average rate of 66.3%.
The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the number of households increased to 122.3 million in the first quarter of 2019, 1.5 million higher than a year ago. The gains are largely due to strong owner household formation, while renter households only increased by 458,000. Indeed, the number of homeowner households has been rising, while the number of renter households has been on the downward trend since the third quarter of 2016. The first quarter 2019 data however, revealed strength, year-over-year, for renting households. This was a clear marker of the recent declines in housing affordability.
The homeownership rates of young adults ages less than 35 and 35-44 increased over the last year, while the rest three age groups experienced either decrease or no changes. The homeownership rates among households ages 35-44 registered the largest gains among all age groups, from 59.8% to 60.3%. Households ages less than 35 experienced a modest 0.1 percentage point increase from 35.3% to 35.4%. However, homeownership rates of households, ages 45-54, registered a decline of 0.5 percentage points.
The nonseasonally adjusted homeowner vacancy rate remained low at 1.4% in the first quarter 2019, statistically not different from a year ago but down 0.1 percentage point from the rate in the last quarter of 2018. At the same time, the national rental vacancy rate increased to 7%, compared to only 6.6% in the previous quarter.