US homeownership rate at multiyear high

New home sales, however, fell unexpectedly in December

Though prospective homebuyers are likely to face continued headwinds in the market this year, a larger share of Americans are calling themselves homeowners.

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The U.S. homeownership rate in the fourth quarter of last year was 65.1 percent, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That is up slightly from the prior quarter and the highest reading in about six years.

The rate was even higher in the Midwest and the South, at 69.5 percent and 66.7 percent, respectively.

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When it comes to age groups, unsurprisingly individuals aged 65 and older had the highest homeownership rate of 79 percent. The level rose to 37.6 percent among individuals below age 35, however, from 36.5 percent a year prior and 36 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

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Deutsche Bank Research put out a note last month that showed the median age of U.S. homebuyers is currently 47. That compares with 1981, when the median age was 31. A combination of factors, including tighter lending standards, an aging population and growing student debt levels has contributed to that trend, researchers said.

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As previously reported by FOX Business, 2020 is expected to be a challenging year in the housing market due to declining inventory.

The total number of available homes for sale could even hit a record low, according to a forecast from Realtor.com, particularly in the first-time buyer’s market. Accordingly, overall U.S. sales are expected to fall by 1.8 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau said that across the U.S. 88.5 percent of housing units are occupied and 11.5 percent were vacant last quarter.

Demand in the entry-level market will be driven by an uptick in Millennial activity – as those born between 1981 and 1997 are expected to account for more than 50 percent of all mortgages by springtime.

Mortgage rates are expected to remain reasonable throughout the year, according to multiple industry forecasts.

However, new home sales fell unexpectedly in December by 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 694,000.

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