Special Report

Cities Where the Most (and Least) People Own Their Home

Manhattan, Kansas
Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Manhattan, KS
> Homeownership rate: 50.3%
> Median home value: $177,200
> Median household income: $50,323

Younger people are less likely to be homeowners than their older counterparts. In Manhattan, Kansas, 46.9% of the population is between the ages of 15 and 34, the largest such share of any city in the country. The substantial number of young people, and the resultant lower homeownership rate, is attributable to the area’s large student population. Kansas State University enrolls nearly 25,000 students in the Manhattan area.

While overall homeownership in Manhattan is well below the national rate, homeownership among the area’s older residents is actually more common than in most of the country. The homeownership rate of those 55 and older is 82.0%, far higher than the corresponding 76.8% national rate.

Merced, California
Source: Thinkstock

4. Merced, CA
> Homeownership rate: 49.8%
> Median home value: $173,000
> Median household income: $44,084

Of the 381 U.S. metropolitan areas, Merced is one of only four urban centers where fewer than half of householders own their homes. Trailing just three other cities, the homeownership rate of 49.8% is close to the lowest in the country. Merced is also one of seven metro areas in California to make this list. California was among the states hit hardest by the housing crisis, and Merced is one of many areas in the state still struggling to recover.

Hinesville, Georgia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Hinesville, GA
> Homeownership rate: 48.5%
> Median home value: $107,700
> Median household income: $43,331

As in most metro areas on this list, not only is the homeownership rate low in Hinesville, but it has declined substantially in recent years. The percentage of housing units owned by their occupants fell from 73.4% in 2010, when it was above the national average, to its current level, just 48.5% — a precipitous drop compared with other metro areas. While in many areas a low median home value can drive up homeownership, Hinesville appears to be an exception. The typical home value in the area is just $107,700, one of the lowest in the country.

Los Angeles, California 2
Source: Thinkstock

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
> Homeownership rate: 48.3%
> Median home value: $494,900
> Median household income: $60,514

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area is home to some of the most expensive housing in the country. The median home value of $494,900 is seventh highest of all metro areas and several times greater than the national median of $181,200. The typical home value is also more than eight times the area’s median household income, which at $60,514 is actually higher than the national median. Across the country, homes tend to be worth just over three times the typical household income.

As further testament to the high cost of housing, 73.1% of owner-occupied homes have a mortgage, well above the national percentage of 63.8%. Not only are fewer individuals buying homes with cash, but fewer homeowners have managed to pay off their home loans.

Albritton Bell Tower in Twilight, College Station, Texas
Source: Thinkstock

1. College Station-Bryan, TX
> Homeownership rate: 47.7%
> Median home value: $149,600
> Median household income: $42,116

The College Station-Bryan area has the lowest homeownership rate of all U.S. metro areas, at 47.7%. As is the case in a handful of other metro areas, the relatively high share of university students living in College Station, home to Texas A&M University — one of the nation’s oldest and largest university systems — likely skews the homeownership rate downward. More than one in four area residents are enrolled in a post-secondary institution.

Poor economic conditions and financial instability likely also contribute to the low home ownership. The area’s poverty rate of 26.3%, for example, is one of the highest in the country.