The national homeownership rate is at its lowest level since the second quarter of 1998. Remember when the comet-crashing-into-Earth movie "Deep Impact" was a hit? You don't? Too long ago, huh? Well, that was the second quarter of 1998.
According to the Census Bureau, the homeownership rate fell to 66.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, down from 67.1 percent in the first quarter of 2010. The last time it was lower was when it was 66.1 percent in the second quarter of 1998.
The U.S. homeownership rate peaked at an all-time high of 69.2 percent while George W. Bush was campaigning on his "Ownership Society" platform in 2004. The rate has been falling more or less steadily since then.
The decline in homeownership seems to have hit black households disproportionately. The black homeownership rate peaked at 49.7 percent in the second quarter of 2004 and fell 4.9 percentage points, to 44.8 percent, at the beginning of this year. Over the same time, the white homeownership rate fell from 76.2 percent to 74.1 percent.