Photo: msittig flickr
By Christopher MaagThe housing boom has officially come full circle.
Homeownership rates have dropped to levels not seen since 1998, wiping out the big gains made during the 2000-2007 boom, according to a report released this week by the Census Bureau.
The percentage of Americans who own their own home dropped to 66.5% in the fourth quarter of 2010, the agency found.
That was a drop from 67.2% the year before.
In 2004, near the height of the housing boom, homeownership rates reached a high of 69.2%.
The decline is hitting non-white homeowners especially hard. Only 44.8% of African-American families owned their own homes at the end of 2008, down from 48% in 2007. Homeownership among Hispanic families also dropped, from 50% in 2007 to 46.8% in the last quarter.
Western states, some of which saw dramatic overbuilding during the housing boom, suffered the worst, with a homeownership rate of 61%. Homeownership was highest in the Midwest, at 70.5%.