Special Report

Cities Where the Fewest People Own Their Homes

The American housing market took off during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The homeownership rate – or the share of housing units occupied by their owner – jumped by 2.6 percentage points from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2020, by far the largest increase ever recorded. By the end of 2020, there were 2.1 million more homeowners in the United States than there were a year earlier. 

The surge in home sales was fueled by several factors, including historically low mortgage rates, and, as some experts speculate, the pandemic, which led many Americans to re-evaluate where and how they live. Here is a look at the mortgage rate in America every year since 1972

Nationwide, the homeownership rate stands at 64.4%, according to the latest American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This rate varies substantially across the country, however, and in some U.S. cities, homeownership is far less common than it is nationwide.

Using census data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 cities with the lowest homeownership rates. Cities, defined as places with populations of at least 25,000, are ranked by the share of housing units occupied by their owners. 

Among the cities on this list, homeownership rates range from 12.5% to 34.0%. The largest share of these cities are in the Northeast, including 12 in New Jersey alone. 

Homeownership can be expensive, and in most of the cities on this list, the typical home is worth more than the national median home value of $229,800, making homeownership less affordable for larger shares of the population. Here is a look at the 20 cities where the middle class can no longer afford housing

Many of the cities on this list are home to major colleges or universities. Because a significant share of the population in college towns reside there temporarily, the transient population are more likely to rent a home than buy one. These places include New Haven, Connecticut, home to Yale University, Troy, New York, home to RPI, and Blacksburg, Virginia, home to Virginia Tech. 

Click here to see the cities where the fewest people own their homes
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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