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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 98-512
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Thursday
Or contact your local HUD officeOctober 22, 1998


WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that the U.S. homeownership rate soared to a record high 66.8 percent in the third quarter of this year. The rate, which measures the percentage of families who own the homes they live in, was up from 66 percent in the second quarter of this year.

The number of families owning their own homes hit 69.1 million in the third quarter - the highest number in American history, and up from 68.3 million in the second quarter. The third quarter covers July, August and September.

Today there are 7.4 million more families owning homes than when President Clinton took office. The homeownership rate stood at 63.7 percent at the beginning of the President's first term.

President Clinton said: "Six years ago, I put in place an economic strategy, which helped produce a cycle of lower deficits, lower interest rates, stronger investment, higher incomes, and greater confidence. That virtuous cycle opened the door of homeownership to millions of Americans. Now the challenge is to keep our economy strong - which is why we must continue to maintain fiscal discipline, invest in our people, and lead the global economy. I will continue to work hard to take the steps necessary to make the dream of homeownership a reality for more Americans." Secretary Cuomo said: "President Clinton's economic policies are shattering the homeownership record the way Mark McGwire's bat shattered the home run record. Our powerful economy is driving the homeownership rate out of the ballpark."

Cuomo said that 1998 is virtually guaranteed to post the highest annual homeownership rate in history, because the nation's homeownership rate in the each of the first three quarters of this year exceeded the record-high annual homeownership rate of 65.7 percent set in 1997.

The second-quarter homeownership rate of 66 percent tied the previous all-time record set in the third quarter of 1997.

Homeownership grew among all major categories of households and among all regions in the third quarter, Cuomo said. However, he said the homeownership gap between whites and minorities and cities and suburbs remained unacceptably high.

The white homeownership was 73.1 percent in the third quarter - compared with 46.8 percent for African Americans and 44.9 percent for Hispanics. The suburban homeownership rate of 73.8 percent dwarfed the urban homeownership rate of 50.5 percent.

"One of our top priorities remains reducing the homeownership gap that's dividing whites from minorities and suburbanites from city residents," Cuomo said. He said HUD will be able to step up its efforts against housing discrimination - a factor in the lower minority homeownership rate - because the Department's new fair housing budget was raised from $30 million last year to $40 million this year - a 33 percent increase.

Cuomo said legislation signed into law by the President on Wednesday raising the limit on home mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which is part of HUD, will also contribute to a further rise in homeownership.

Until now, FHA insurance could cover mortgage loans ranging from $86,317 in low-cost housing areas to $170,362 in high-cost areas. The legislation signed by the President increases the loan limits substantially - ranging from $109,032 in low-cost areas to $197,621 in high-cost areas. The higher ceiling on FHA mortgages opens the door to homeownership for thousands of families each year who need FHA insurance to get mortgages but were locked out until now because the mortgage loan limits were too low.

Statistics issued today by the Census Bureau show that:

  • WHITES: In the third quarter of this year, 73.1 percent of whites were homeowners - up from 72.5 percent in the second quarter.

  • AFRICAN AMERICANS: In the third quarter, 46.8 percent of African American households were homeowners - up from 45.3 percent in the quarter before.

  • HISPANICS: 44.9 percent of Hispanic households owned their homes in the third quarter - up from 43.9 percent in the second quarter.

  • SUBURBS: Suburban homeownership was 73.8 percent in the third quarter - up from 73 percent in the second quarter of 1998.

  • CENTRAL CITIES: Homeownership in cities that are at the center of metropolitan areas was 50.5 percent in the third quarter - up from 49.5 percent in the second quarter.

  • FEMALE-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS: The homeownership rate among female-headed households was 52.4 percent in the third quarter - up from 51 percent in the second quarter.

On a regional basis, the homeownership rate rose in every part of the country.

MIDWEST: 71.7 percent in the third quarter - up from 70.3 percent in the second quarter.

SOUTH: 68.8 percent in the third quarter - up from 68.4 percent in the second quarter.

WEST: 61.1 percent in the third quarter - up from 60.3 percent in the second quarter.

NORTHEAST: 63.4 percent in the third quarter - up from 62.7 percent in the second quarter.

In addition to the strong economy created by President Clinton's policies, Cuomo said another factor contributing to the overall growth in homeownership has been the National Partners in Homeownership - a coalition of 65 national groups representing the housing industry, lenders, non-profit groups and all sectors of government working to make buying a home more affordable, faster and easier. The partnership was created in 1994 as part of President Clinton's National Homeownership Strategy.

Today's announcement comes a day after the Mortgage Bankers Association of America issued projections saying that Americans are expected to purchase record numbers of existing and new single-family homes this year. The group forecasts that Americans will buy an estimated 4.73 million existing homes and 859,000 new homes this year - both records.

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