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Business & Economy

NC Homeownership Rates Shoot Up In 2016

A house for sale in Stokes County, N.C.
Images of Money via Flickr

North Carolina homeownership rates increased noticeably in 2016, the first year since the Great Recession to show a significant upward trend.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether this uptick will hold.

The North Carolina homeownership rate increased one-half percentage point to 65.7 percent in 2016, according to an analysis of data published by the Census Bureau. In the past quarter century, only twice – 2005 and 2009 – did the rate increase at a sharper clip, and both of those years were followed by significant declines the following year.

Since 2009, homeownership rates had dropped in five of six years, with 2013 as the only outlier in which rates increased just one-tenth of 1 percent.

Homeownership rates through the years.
Credit Census
Homeownership rates through the years.

The new data were welcome news to Stacey Anfindsen a market analyst with the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors. "Not only North Carolina, but the country is better when we have a larger percentage of people that own their own houses," he said. "The whole take ownership issue. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about your personality, your house, or whatever. You tend to take care of it better than if it’s somebody else's."

Of course, some argue that unrestricted greed in the housing market led directly to the financial collapse. In the following half decade since the housing collapse, countless think pieces have questioned the notion that Americans should own their homes. For one, buyers typically do not calculate interest into the total cost of a house, increasing the ultimate costs of a house, even if it is partially offset by tax breaks. In addition, repairs can bring a financial burden that homeowners do not often think of when smiling in front of an "Under Contract" sign.

Across the nation, homeownership rates began to increase in the mid-1990s. Along with many other rural states, North Carolina already had a relatively high homeownership rate and held steady as the national average caught up. That plummeted after the financial collapse, and now those in real estate will watch closely to see if 2016 was a blip or the beginning of an upward trend.

Anfindsen predicts the latter. Millennials, saddled with student debt and low job prospects, are starting to get into the home buying game, which will bring the average upward, and housing prices are still modest in North Carolina compared with other states.

"So it's certainly easier to grow our homeownership rate here versus in New York, Illinois, or certainly California," said Anfindsen.

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