Slipping homeownership isn’t just a Southern California problem.
U.S. Census Bureau stats for 2016 show continued dips nationwide, statewide and in Los Angeles and Orange counties. But surprisingly, there was against-the-grain progress in the Inland Empire.
My trusty spreadsheet tells me that in 2016 an average 47.2 percent of households in the L.A.-O.C. metropolitan area lived in homes they owned vs. 49.1 percent in 2015. In both years, that was the lowest ownership rate among the nation’s 75 largest metro areas.
And numerous California markets joined L.A.-O.C. near the bottom of the list: San Jose was second worst with 50 percent ownership; San Diego was fifth worst at 53.3 percent; San Francisco was sixth worst at 55.8 percent; Fresno was eighth worst at 56.2 percent. (FYI: Best ownership rate? Grand Rapids, Mich., at 76 percent.)
These signs of regional homebuying hurdles make the rise of ownership in Riverside and San Bernardino counties impressive: 63 percent ownership in 2016, almost at the national level and up from 61 percent in 2015.
Nationwide, ownership averaged 63.4 percent last year, down from 63.7 percent in 2015 and the 69 percent high in 2004. Of course, the peak hit when high-risk mortgages made homebuying far easier.
Here are five questions raised by the report:
1. What’s up in the Inland Empire?
There’s little doubt the two counties’ booming job market and reputation as Southern California’s housing bargain helped boost ownership. Want to know why the 91 is so packed with cars?
Last year, the Inland Empire had the highest ownership rate among the seven California markets tracked and ranked 35th out of the 75 metros nationwide vs. a 52nd ranking in 2015.
2. How rare was that increase?
Last year, the nationwide ownership rate fell to a 41-year low, improved in only 16 states and was up in just 27 of the 75 major markets tracked. In fact, the Inland Empire’s 2 percentage point improvement was 11th best last year…