Editor’s note: This is a transcript of the audio file.

U.S homeownership has fallen below 60-percent as more people choose to rent instead of own. I’m Terrence Shepherd with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

Once the benchmark of personal success, the American dream of homeownership is declining, according to a report by Morgan Stanley.

Although the U.S. real estate market has always been cyclical – it was easy credit that fueled the all-time homeownership high of 69 percent in 2004. Seven years later, tighter lending standards, along with severe unemployment, foreclosures and plummeting home prices are taking their toll on the real estate market.

If anything positive comes out of this housing disaster, it would be that more responsible lending and borrowing will only help stabilize the industry for the longer term.

And not everyone was going for the easy credit solution: The latest Census data from 2009 reports that nearly a third of the 76 million homeowners had no debt or mortgage on their home.

For more news, money-saving tips and expert advice, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Terence Shepherd.