According to the United States Census Bureau, the rate of home ownership in the United States was 67.3% in the first quarter of 2009 -- its lowest rate since the second quarter of 2000. Here, courtesy of Consumer Reports, are the numbers by age group:
  • Under 35 years: 39.8%
  • 35 to 44 years: 65.7%
  • 45 to 54 years: 74.6%
  • 55 to 64 years: 79.8%
  • 65 years and over: 80.4%
Here's what this means: All the lax lending standards and subprime sludge did nothing to increase home ownership in the long run. People bought houses and then lost them, destroying their credit and wiping out whatever savings they had. The loans were sold to investors and proceeded to lay waste to people's retirement accounts. The only people who benefited were the mortgage brokers and real estate agents, along with the bank executives who were paid enormous bonuses before the whole thing fell apart.
Happily, home ownership seems likely to rise, spurred on by low interest rates and record affordability, along with generous tax credits for first-time buyers.

The Census data also shows that home ownership fell the most among young people and African-Americans. I expect that young people will be more reluctant to buy their first homes than past generations: Who would dive into the real estate market when they came of age during the biggest meltdown in history?

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