One group has seemed immune from declining homeownership

by Ryan Smith27 Jul 2017
Homeownership rates have plummeted in the US over the last several years. The decline is evident across all income groups and almost all demographic groups throughout the country. However, there’s one group that’s bucking the trend.

In the period from 2001 to 2009, homeownership among US adults was at 71%, according to data from Gallup. In the years since, it’s cratered to 63%. And that eight-percentage-point drop is averaged across all demographic groups. For some groups, the drop has been much larger. For instance, adults 18-29 and 30-39 each saw a 10-percentage-point drop-off in homeownership since 2009, to 26% and 63%, respectively. Those with an annual household income below $30,000 saw a 12-point drop.

“Younger adults, low- and middle-income Americans, and those living in the West have experienced above-average drops in homeownership,” Gallup said. “But declines are apparent among groups with traditionally high ownership rates, including upper-income Americans.”

But one group has seemed immune from the drop: older Americans. Between 2001 and 2009, an average of 81% of seniors owned a home, Gallup found. In the years since, that average has actually increased slightly, to 82%.

The reason is simple: lack of a monthly mortgage payment.

“One reason for this stability is that many older Americans may own their home outright because they paid off their mortgage in full or they sold their house and paid cash to buy a smaller, less expensive home,” Gallup said. “In either case, they would no longer pay substantial monthly mortgage payments, and their ability to afford a home would be less tied to receiving a regular and substantial paycheck than younger Americans’ ability to afford a home is.”


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