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September/October 2006, 
Vol. 88, No. 5
Posted 2006-09-01

Recent Trends in Homeownership

by Carlos Garriga, William T. Gavin, and Don Schlagenhauf

The homeownership rate began to trend upward in 1995 after years of being relatively constant, near 64 percent. This article describes recent changes in the share of U.S. housing that is owner-occupied and explores the reasons for the surprising rise over the past decade. Explanations that have been offered include demographics, low mortgage rates, changes in housing policy, and innovations in the mortgage financial market. Of all these explanations, the most plausible one is that innovations in the financial markets increased access to mortgage finance, mainly by reducing downpayment constraints and allowing younger people to buy homes.