November 16, 2018
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Who’s buying homes and what it says about the economy

Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP
Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP
In this March 6, 2018, photo a home is advertised as sold in Sunnyvale, California. U.S home prices rose rapidly in May 2018, a trend that is thwarting some would-be buyers and pulling down home sales. Mortgage rates also are on the rise, dampening some sales. The U.S. Census Bureau said on Aug. 14, 2018 that home ownership still isn’t at the pre-recession levels, although buyers aged 65 and up are much more likely to own a home.

The number of Americans owning homes still hasn’t returned to the percentage it had attained before the recession, but one group, older buyers, is nudging close to 2006 levels, a U.S. Census Bureau study released Wednesday found.

Although people of all ages owned fewer homes in 2017 than 2006, last year the number of people age 65 and older were within about 2 percent of the home ownership level before the recession dampened the housing market starting in 2007.

Home ownership also depended on age. Up to 10 percent fewer people age 44 and younger owned houses last year, compared with in 2006.

The Census Bureau did not break down age statistics by state. However, in Maine, which has a large older population, home ownership for all age groups was 75.5 percent at the end of 2006 and 73.7 percent at the end of 2017.

In a commentary, Census Bureau spokesman Derick Moore wrote that while the overall homeownership rate fluctuates over time due to recessions, interest rates, home prices, student loan debts and other factors, age is a big consideration. People younger than 35 are much less likely to own a home than those age 65 and older.

“Most Americans think that the ideal age people should marry is 25, but only about a quarter of adults have actually done so by that age,” Census Bureau demographer Jonathan Vespa, said in a written statement. “Because marriage is closely tied with establishing their own household, young adults may be delaying homeownership to later ages as well.”

Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine declined 1.38 percent in May of 2018 compared to last May, according to Maine Listings, a subsidiary of the Maine Association of Realtors. The group attributed the decrease to limited market inventory.

“Even though the May sold numbers show a slight dip, existing home sales for January through May 2018 are running 1.6 percent above the 2017 pace, which was the strongest year ever for Maine real estate sales,” Kim Gleason, president of the Maine Association of Realtors, said in a statement when the numbers were released in June.

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