American Homeownership Took a Dive Post-Recession

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Median home values took a hit across the U.S. following the recession, particularly in the most populated areas of the country. In fact, only four of the 50 least populous counties saw significant slides in median home values in the years following the recession, compared to 43 of the 50 most populated counties that experienced such declines, according to a Census report released today.

Using data gathered by the American Community Survey, which collects a variety of demographic and financial information about the country’s residents, the Census Bureau compared home values and homeownership rates among states, counties, metropolitan statistical areas and cities during three-year periods before and after the recession. The first three-year period covered 2007 to 2009, and statistics from that time frame were compared against numbers from 2010 to 2012 to show the effects of the recession on American homeownership.

Starting in the 1940s, American homeownership rate soared for two decades before slowing down — though still growing — from the 1960s through its peak in 2006, when more than 67% of housing units were owner-occupied. From 2007 to 2009, that percentage was 66.4%, and the rate continued to decline, falling to 64.7% from 2010 to 2012.

Forty-three of the 50 largest cities experienced a decline in homeownership, with 23 of those cities reporting percentage-point declines greater than the U.S. average (the national homeownership average declined 1.72 percentage points between the three-year periods.) On the flip side, only 17 of the 50 smallest cities experienced decline.

It was a bit different among home values: 35 of the most-populous cities and 33 of the least-populous cities experienced median home value declines. The difference in home-value declines was much more stark on the county level.

As for a national view, 28 states saw their median home values decline, and overall, the country experienced a $17,300 decline in median home value. Nineteen states reported statistically significant increases, with North Dakota’s median home value spiking the most at an $18,200 increase.


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