PUBLISHED: 17:51 EST, 29 April 2012 | UPDATED: 18:54 EST, 29 April 2012
Less than two thirds of Americans say they own their own homes – the lowest rate of home ownership in more than a decade.
A new Gallup poll shows just 62 per cent of Americans are homeowners, down 11 percentage points from the high of 73 per cent in 2007, just before the housing market crashed spectacularly.
A record number of Americans, 43 per cent, also say their homes are now worth less than what they paid for them.
The new data, based on a survey of 1,000 people, shows that housing market continues to plummet, despite modest economic recovery and improvements in the unemployment rate.
The home ownership rate reported by Gallup dropped six percentage points from this time last year. The numbers were the lowest in the history of the survey, which Gallup began taking in 2001.
‘Declining homeownership rates suggest some Americans are beginning to doubt that homeownership remains part of the American dream – or at least, an attainable part of it,’ Gallup wrote.
The polling company pointed to a vicious cycle that is causing the drop in ownership rates, as the housing market cannot improve significantly until unemployment drops to levels seen since before the recession.
Unfortunately, the American economy is unlikely to grow enough to support that many new jobs until the housing market recovers.
Underscoring the trouble with the housing market is the dramatic numbers of people who say their houses are worth less than they paid for them.
In 2006, 92 per cent of Americans said their homes had increased in value since they bought them.
That number has fallen rapidly ever since, It hit a new low this year, with just 53 per cent of those polled saying their homes had increased in value.
A glut of foreclosures have flooded the market with cheap houses, driving down the price of all other homes.
Despite this bad news, Americans seem to remain optimistic about the housing market.
About a third of people believe home prices will increase in the next year — despite some economic indicators to the contrary.
About 70 per cent of Americans also believe that now is a good time to buy a home.
Gallup says that this statistic points out an irony — most American’s can’t get home loans now thanks to the ‘broken housing finance system.’ Loans are only available to borrowers who meet stringent requirements — which most Americans cannot meet.