U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises for First Time in Two Years

The homeownership rate in the U.S. rose for the first time in two years as sustained job growth and low borrowing costs fueled demand for housing.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 63.7 percent in the third quarter, up from 63.4 percent in the previous three months, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. It was the first quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2013.

The pool of eligible buyers is expanding as U.S. employment improves and families who lost properties during the recession repair their credit and seek another chance at owning. Sales of existing homes rebounded in September to the second-highest level since February 2007.

“It stands to reason that the homeownership rate is going to stabilize here -- why wouldn’t it?” Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York, said in a phone interview after the data were released. “The housing market recovery seems to have gained traction over the past year, and we’ve seen home sales pick up, and we’ve seen some evidence that the first-time buyer is coming back.”

The homeownership rate for Americans under age 35 was 35.8 percent, up from 34.8 in the previous three months, according to the Census Bureau report.

The nationwide rate is up from a 48-year low in the second quarter. It remains far below the peak of 69.2 percent reached in June 2004. From 1965 to 1999, the average was 64.5 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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