June is National Home Ownership Month and if you missed it you weren’t the only one. Not only was there a lack of press coverage, there was also a large group of individuals who missed out on the opportunity to buy a home. In 2003, National Home Ownership Month was announced by President George W. Bush to promote awareness and policies to expand home ownership across the country. The awareness campaign and policies were not completely new, but rather an extension of President Bill Clinton’s National Home Ownership Day of 1995 and the Clinton 100-point action plan to increase home ownership to record levels.
Both the Democratic and Republican administrations’ plans had noble intentions, as they both recognized that home ownership is a part of the American dream. Home ownership does, in fact, promote civic responsibility and financial security for most Americans. I experienced this first-hand when I relocated my family to Dallas, Texas. We opted to rent for nearly a year while we learned more about the area. My family’s attitude towards our rental house and neighborhood were different than our current home. Our feelings toward our rental home were not bad or negative, we just did not experience the pride we feel now that we have purchased our own home.
Looking back now, we see that the President’s goal of increasing home ownership to record rates was met. However, it came at a great price as the “bubble” was created and real estate prices came crashing down shortly thereafter. The bubble bursting took most of the economy down with it which is now referred to as the “great recession.” The reality is that while most Americans dream is of owning a home, not everyone should or can afford own a home, due to all different kinds of circumstances.
Homeownership rates are now at the lowest levels in 50 years (see chart below) and there is pent up demand for affordable housing.
The term “home ownership rate” can be misleading. It is defined by the government as “the percentage of homes that are occupied by the owner.” It is not the percentage of adults that own their own home. The problem with this rate is it does not count adult individuals who are neither home owners nor are renters. Since the great recession of 2007, the group of young adults between the ages of 18-34 has increased dramatically. In fact, the individuals in this age group are opting more often to live with their parents than with a spouse, as marriage is being postponed to a later age. See chart below.
The home ownership rate alone can mislead you because if young adults don’t create a new household, then the percentage is skewed. Comparing number of actual historical households, it becomes clear that the number of young adults who are fulfilling the dream of home ownership is significantly less than the current home ownership rate states. Starting a new household is important for many factors, including the overall economic growth of the country. Owning your own home is equally important for most individuals’ financial security.
The month of May reached a new peak in the median price of homes. Unlike in 2007, this peak was not caused by government involvement but rather the laws of supply and demand. May demonstrated a new low in listing inventory and a new record low of time on the market for a house to sell. The real estate headlines this summer will continue to highlight the shortage of affordable housing. Let’s hope by next June a plan is put into place that will spur new construction of homes that are priced to encourage more young adults to buy and afford buying their first home.
As June ends, it is the true beginning of summer. Here’s to hoping that you have plans in place to enjoy both the benefits of home ownership, and enjoying the summer.