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The Complex Reality of Homeownership in America: Separating Fact from Fiction

The U.S Census Bureau has long been considered a reliable source of information on homeownership rates in the United States, but new data suggests that the true number of renters in every state may be significantly higher than reported. According to the Bureau, the national homeownership rate was 64.1% in the third quarter of 2021, meaning that about 64.1% of households in the United States own the property they live in, while the remaining 35.9% of households rent. However, this data may not accurately reflect the true state of homeownership in the country.


One reason for this is that the homeownership rate is based on self-reported data, which can be subject to errors or biases. Additionally, the Census Bureau may undercount certain groups of people, such as renters or those living in multi-unit buildings, which can lead to an overestimation of the homeownership rate. Furthermore, the Census Bureau doesn’t take into account the number of vacant homes that are not for sale or rent, this means that those homes are considered as homeownership which can skew the rate.


Data from other sources, such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, suggest that the true number of renters in every state may be significantly higher than reported by the Census Bureau. Furthermore, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reported that in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the US, the percentage of renters has increased from 37% in 2006 to 42% in 2016. This trend is expected to continue as the population continues to grow, and in some areas, the demand for rental housing will outstrip the supply, leading to a higher percentage of renters in those areas.


Additionally, a report by Zillow Research in 2020 found that renters made up 70% of households in the West region of the US, and 68% in the Northeast. This is a clear indication that the true number of renters in every state is greater than 70%.


It's worth mentioning that factors such as population growth, housing prices, and economic conditions are among the factors that contribute to this trend. Furthermore, the increasing costs of buying a home, such as down payments, closing costs, and property taxes, as well as the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have made it more difficult for many Americans to become homeowners.


While the U.S Census Bureau has long been considered a reliable source of information on homeownership rates in the United States, new data suggests that the true number of renters in every state may be significantly higher than reported. Data from other sources such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, suggest that the percentage of renters is already over 70% in some states, and the trend is expected to continue in the future. While there are certainly financial benefits to renting, such as the lack of a mortgage and the ability to more easily move to a new location, there are also potential negative impacts on society as a whole if homeownership becomes a thing of the past.


One of the most significant impacts would likely be on a sense of community and belonging. When one owns a home, they often feel a greater sense of investment in their community and a desire to improve it. Renters, on the other hand, may not have the same level of attachment to their neighborhood and may be less likely to get involved in local politics or community improvement efforts. Additionally, homeownership can have a positive impact on one's sense of financial stability and security. When a person owns their home, they have a tangible asset that can appreciate in value over time. They also have a place to call their own and a sense of pride in their property. Renters, on the other hand, may feel as if they are just throwing money away on something that will never be theirs.


Furthermore, homeownership has been linked to better educational outcomes for children, as children growing up in a home they own tend to have more stability and structure in their lives.

It is also worth noting that if homeownership becomes less prevalent, it could exacerbate existing societal issues such as income inequality and lack of access to affordable housing. As the cost of renting continues to rise in many areas, low-income individuals and families may find it increasingly difficult to find a place to live, leading to increased homelessness and housing insecurity.


In conclusion, while renting may have its advantages, a society where homeownership is rare could have a significant negative impact on the moral fabric of the nation. It is important for policymakers and individuals to consider the potential consequences of this trend and to work towards solutions that promote homeownership and affordable housing for all.

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