The housing boom has officially come full circle. Homeownership rates have dropped to levels not seen since 1998, wiping out the big gains made during the 2000-2007 boom, according to a report released this week by the Census Bureau.
The percentage of Americans who own their own home dropped to 66.5% in the fourth quarter of 2010, the agency found. That was a drop from 67.2% the year before. In 2004, near the height of the housing boom, homeownership rates reached a high of 69.2%.
The decline is hitting non-white homeowners especially hard. Only 44.8% of African-American families owned their own homes at the end of 2008, down from 48% in 2007. Homeownership among Hispanic families also dropped, from 50% in 2007 to 46.8% in the last quarter.
Western states, some of which saw dramatic overbuilding during the housing boom, suffered the worst, with a homeownership rate of 61%. Homeownership was highest in the Midwest, at 70.5%.
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Image: Micah Sittig, via Flickr.com