Sunday, November 14, 2010

WASHINGTON — The nation’s homeownership rate remained at its lowest in more than a decade, hampered by a rise in foreclosures and weak demand for housing.

The percentage of households that owned their homes was unchanged at 66.9 percent in the July-September quarter, the Census Bureau said yesterday. That’s the same as the April-June quarter.

The last time the rate was lower was in 1999, when the rate was 66.7 percent.

For decades, 64 percent of American homes were owned by their occupants. That began to climb in 1995, with strong encouragement from President Clinton and later on from President George W. Bush.

Democrats, including Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, pushed for mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase more loans targeted toward low-income Americans. Republicans encouraged subprime lending to borrowers with weak credit and fought off industry regulation, despite warnings that many of those loans had predatory terms.

A record number of foreclosures and tight lending standards are expected to keep pushing the homeownership rate down and it will eventually return to pre-1995 levels, said IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport

Associated Press November 3, 2010

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