Despite low interest rates and expanding credit availability, homeownership in the U.S. continues to fall, down to a low of 64.7%, a level not seen since 1995.
Among the key culprit is home affordability, which has been exacerbated by home price appreciation driven by investor and not owner-occupant sales and general wage stagnation.
“The fundamental causes of the decreasing homeownership trend are becoming more entrenched and are not expected to reverse anytime soon,” says Ron D’Vari, CEO, NewOak.
Further stressing the problem, first-time home purchasers are declining as a share of total home sales.
Usually, first-time home buyers constitute one of the major drivers of the homeownership rate of change, but tougher mortgage underwriting standards, lower quality of new jobs and changing demographics are keeping them renting instead of buying.
“College graduates are not qualifying for new home purchases as many of them are burdened with student loan repayments as well as the higher down-payment requirements. As a result, first-time homebuyers are failing the qualified mortgage/qualified residential mortgage and ability-to-repay rules,” D’vari says. “Unless home prices rise at a much slower pace and the U.S. economy produces more higher-paying jobs and regulators loosen up the mortgage lending rules, the downward trend in homeownership is unlikely to reverse course any time soon.”