There are two themes I find endlessly fascinating about real estate. One is its enormous role in the financial crisis. 1 The other is the steep decline in homeownership after the crisis. Let’s take a closer look at some of the data, to see if there are any insights to be gleaned.
Homeownership in the United States peaked in 2004, when 69.2 percent of all U.S. households owned their dwellings. The rate bottomed at 62.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016, a level not seen since 1965. But here what really interesting: the rate has since risen sharply to 64.2 percent.
Many forces are behind the rise, including falling unemployment, soaring rents, increasing interest rates and millennials finally integrating into the workforce after so much difficulty during and for several years after the Great Recession. Let’s look at bit closer at each in turn:
• Employment: As was reported this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market continues to improve. The unemployment rate is a very low 4.1 percent, with steady gains in construction, health care and manufacturing. And with the labor market showing undeniable signs of tightening, wages are starting to tick up, rising at a 2.9 percent annual rate last month, the fastest since mid-2009.
• Rents: Ever since the financial crisis, rents have been rising nationwide. It is a little tricky capturing data on this, which comes from a variety of private sources (Rentonomics, REIS, Trulia and Miller Samuel) and vary in what they measures and methodology.
However, after a long run-up,…