However, the rate of homeownership at the end of November was down to 65.3 percent, according to data released Dec. 20th by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
This is the same level of homeownership that Americans enjoyed in 1996, before the federal government stepped in to help.
Although negative equity has decreased 21 percent since November 2012, 10.8 million American homeowners – 1 in 5 - owed $805 billion more than their homes were worth at the end of the third quarter, according to Zillow’s Negative Equity Report.
Non-Hispanic whites are still more likely to own their homes (73.3 percent) than members of other races (55.2 percent), the Census Bureau reports.
Black households had the lowest rate of homeownership (43.1 percent), down from 44.1 percent in November 2012 and down six percentage points from the peak (49.1 percent) in 2004, the same year Congress passed amendments to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 designed to help more minority families buy homes.
But the CRA also helped inflate the housing bubble, and black families were hit the hardest by the foreclosure crisis that followed.
Not surprisingly, more than three quarters of all households (79.9 percent) with family incomes greater than or equal to the median own their homes, compared to half of households with family incomes below the median.
Homeownership rates were also “highest in the Midwest (69.6 percent) and lowest in the West (59.5 percent),” the Census Bureau reported.
Americans over 65 years of age are more than twice as likely to own their homes as those under 35. The rate of homeownership in the 65+ category was 81.2 percent in the third quarter of 2013, compared to just 36.8 percent for those under 35. Younger Americans’ mobility has fallen to a 50-year low as economic pressures force them to defer plans to buy a house and start a family.
However, householders aged 55 to 64 also lost some ground this year, with a homeownership rate (76.2 percent) at the end of November slightly lower than it was the same time last year (76.9 percent).