Homeownership Rate Drops in 1Q; First Quarterly Decline in 2 Years

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist


  • Homeownership rate dropped to 64.2 percent in 1Q 2019 from 64.8 percent in 4Q 2018;
  • The number of homes for sale dropped by 93,000 from 4Q 2018 to 1Q 2019
  • Homeownership rate for older Americans – 65-plus – FELL to 78.5 percent in 1Q 2019 from 78.8 percent in 4Q 2018 while the homeownership rate for younger Americans — under 35 – dropped 1.1 percentage points to 35.4 percent, the lowest in a year;
  • 797,000 FEWER households owned homes in 1Q 2019 than in 4Q 2018.


  • The drop in the homeownership rate was the first since 1Q 2017;
  • Homeownership fell most sharply in the Midwest and West, down 1.1 percentage points in each region, while slipping 0.6 percentage points in the Northeast and rising 0.2 percentage points in the South;
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With all home sales faltering, according to both the Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the nation’s homeownership rate fell in the first quarter with the sharpest quarterly decline in almost three years.

The rate dropped 0.6 percentage points to 64.2 percent. The last time it fell as sharply was from 1Q 2016 to 2Q when it went from 63.5 percent to 62.9 percent.

Much of the decline is attributable to the difficulties faced by younger families in buying homes.

The homeownership rate for those under 35 went from 36.5 percent in the fourth quarter to 35.4 percent. The homeownership for families headed by an individual 35 to 44 fell 0.8 percentage points, from 61.1 percent to 60.3 percent.

In both cases, the homeownership rate was the lowest since first quarter last year.

The rate dropped in all age cohorts, most slowly in the 55 to 64-year-old age bracket where it dipped 0.1 percentage points to 75.4 percent.

The total number of owner-occupied homes fell 797,000 in the first quarter, the largest quarter-quarter decline since Census records on homeownership began in 1965. The number of household renting homes increased in 1Q to 43,750,000, the highest level since Census records began.

The home sales market was rocked with the tax changes enacted in December 2017 which capped the deductibility of mortgage interest as well as local real estate taxes, removing some of the tax advantages of homeownership.

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 am Eastern Time. Follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

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