According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the national homeownership rate now stands at 65.3 percent, slightly higher than the rate registered in the second quarter of 2013 but nearly four percentage points lower than the record high rate of 69.2 percent in 2004.
The Census Bureau figures show that homeownership rates remained largely unchanged across geographic regions and family income levels. The homeownership rates for whites and African-Americans also remained relatively flat.
The Hispanic community is the one notable exception to this overall picture of limited homeownership growth: the homeownership rate for Hispanic households now stands at 47.6 percent, a sharp increase of 1.7 percentage points from last quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the percentage of Hispanic households owning their own homes was 45 percent. So we have witnessed a remarkable bump in the Hispanic homeownership rate, by some 2.6 percentage points, over a period of less than a year.
We are not surprised by these developments. The goal of owning a home is deeply rooted within the Hispanic community. While the housing crash hit Hispanics particularly hard, homeownership continues to be a symbol of achievement and is considered an important element of providing for one’s family.
As the Hispanic population grows, and as Hispanics attain higher educational levels and greater purchasing power, their impact on our nation’s housing market will also grow. In fact, the Hispanic community may be the single biggest driving force for housing demand in the coming decade.
Looking ahead, a key focus for policymakers should be to promote the broad availability of prime, fixed-rate mortgage financing combined with housing counseling and financial education, particularly for first-time buyers. To achieve this goal, our nation’s government-dominated housing finance system must be reformed. A new, more sustainable system where risk-bearing private capital is plentiful should enhance consumer choice, benefiting not only those in the Hispanic community but all Americans as well.