According to the US Census Bureau – that bunch who make every party worth attending – the homeownership rate for the first quarter of this year is 64.2%. In comparing that number against the same time last year, they stated, “The homeownership rate of 64.2% was not statistically different from the rate in the first quarter 2017 (63.6%).” While they may not find a .6% increase to be “statistically different”, I beg to differ.
According to this same bunch of party animals at the US Census Bureau, there are over 251 million people living here in the United States over the age of 18 years old. When you multiply that number by .6%, you get over $1.5 million MORE people who became homeowners. I’d say that’s VERY significant.
Before any of you get all technical and wonky on me by saying, “Well, sure, 64.2% is a pretty great number, but that means that there’s still 35.8% of us who aren’t homeowners – and when you multiply that number by the adult population of the US, that’s a big number.” I won’t argue that with you on the face of it, but let me give you a little perspective. There are MANY parts of the country where people CHOOSE to live where homeownership is next to impossible. A prime example is New York City. There are millions of people who rent in Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs – due to space and cost, owning isn’t really an option. This same “problem” applies to many metropolitan areas and even large swaths of the state of California. When you take those numbers and remove them from the adult population, the number goes down significantly, and you start to see that homeownership is VERY possible.
It comes down to choice, really. In some cases, it’s a very touch choice, but it’s still a choice. Many will argue that they have to live in a certain part of the country because of their job or a family arrangement. That’s fair . . . but what landed them where they are was the result of a choice (and it may have been the lesser of two evils in some cases). If it’s saving for a down payment versus going on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Europe (or Cleveland) or making major changes in your lifestyle for the next 18-24 months to pay down debt to clean up your credit score or actively looking for a job (that might even pay a little less) in another part of the country that is a little friendlier to homeownership, it’s your choice – and it’s in YOUR control.
Let me close this out with two statistics: The odds of dating a supermodel are 1 in 88,000. The odds of getting a royal flush in poker are 1 in 649,739. Yes, if you do the math, that means you are seven times more likely to date a supermodel than sitting down at a poker table and drawing a royal flush, but I wouldn’t rely on either one as a means of buying a house. You can’t control how you look or how the cards are dealt, but you CAN control how you spend your money – and THAT’s a power no one can take away from you.