Younger buyers fuel surge in US homeownership

The number of American households who own homes grew by more than 1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, with much of the gain attributed to buyers between the ages of 18 and 44.

Census data released last week show a U.S. homeownership rate of 64.2 percent, up by more than 1.3 percent since its low point in mid-2016.

Meanwhile, in another positive for the housing market, the number of renter households dropped steadily throughout the year: There were 75,000 fewer renter households in 2017 than the previous year, compared to a gain in of new owner households of 1.5 million.

Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, says the new numbers suggest the worst effects of the Great Recession are behind us. According to McLaughlin, millennials — 18-to-35-year-olds — are the largest group of potential buyers that aren’t yet homeowners, while the 35-to-44-year-old group suffered the most from the foreclosure crisis.

“The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households outpaced renters is a strong sign this is a true trend and that the decline in homeownership caused by the Great Recession is reversing course,” he said.

According to Zillow, here’s where homeownership rates increased most among the largest US metros:

Columbus: 5 percent to 61.3 percent;
Orlando: 4.3 percent to 63 percent;
San Antonio: 4.1 percent to 67.1 percent);
Cincinnati: 3.9 percent to 64.8 percent);
Phoenix: 3.9 percent to 67.3 percent.

Rates dropped the most in:

Baltimore: down 4.6 percent to 64 percent;
Denver: down 4.5 percent to 58.1 percent);
Riverside, California: down 3.4 percent to 61 percent);
San Francisco: down 2.9 percent to 54.8 percent;
Boston: down 2.8 percent to 57.8 percent).