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Say What? Declining Homeownership Rates Aren't a Good Thing
On Aug. 3, The Washington Post published a remarkable opinion piece by Charles Lane, one of the paper's editorial writers, which fits squarely into the Post’s narrative about the perniciousness of all things Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Lane drops this gem, “the ongoing decline of the homeownership rate is actually good news.”
Actually, it’s not.
Let’s start with how we lost ground on homeownership, which has dropped to about 63 percent of households from a peak of near 70 percent. There are two ways we did this: one, by turning owners back into renters through foreclosures, and two, by having fewer new entrants to the market. While it’s impossible and fruitless to argue what the homeownership rate should be, we know that the loss of wealth is never a good development.
Foreclosures, short sales, and other reactions to the crisis threatened and then wiped out many American dreams. It’s also well known that, as we remain in the shadow of the housing crisis, first-time homebuyers are delaying or not buying at all.
While Lane may think this is good news, it’s hard to mesh this with other data points from the crisis.