But that was mostly before a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and resulting shutdown caused financial havoc, including staggering job losses, pay cuts, business closures and other misery.
Homeownership could fall, possibly sharply, if out-of-work homeowners can't pay their mortgages and foreclosures increase.
Experts say homeownership is how many Ohioans build wealth, and it can be lower income residents' best path out of poverty. Those experts told the
"For individuals, homeownership has been the No. 1 creator of wealth and social mobility over the last century," said
The share of Ohioans who own their homes rose to 69.3% in the first quarter of this year, up from 68.4% at the end of 2019, according to
That was the highest rate since the first quarter of 2011, and was a big improvement from the recent low of 65.1% in the first quarter of 2017, the Census said.
In 2006, before the economic crash,
Rising homeownership and falling vacancy rates indicate a strong housing market, said
This metric matters because homeowners build nest eggs faster than renters, mostly due to the appreciation of property and paying down the principal, resulting in equity, Reddy said.
Reddy said homeownership has other benefits, including supporting the stability and appearance of neighborhoods. Owners tend to feel more invested, he said, and connected to where they live.
"Homeownership builds a sense of community," he said. "The longer people live in their homes, they get to know and help their neighbors."
Communities with high homeownership rates see more investment and commitment from residents, who are more likely to get involved in volunteer projects, neighborhood associations and other activities, said
Homeownership typically improves household health, decreases crime rates and provides one of the best opportunities to build wealth, Deacon said.
But the unprecedented coronavirus crisis unfortunately is resulting in large job losses, which she said likely will lead to a spike in foreclosures.
"I believe it will take several months to see this ripple effect," Deacon said. "We'll start to see a reduction in home purchases."
By all indications, some Ohioans are going to fall behind on their mortgage payments because of this health and economic crisis, Reddy said.
Unless lenders provide additional time to make payments, and consider loan modifications and negotiated principal reductions, more short sales and foreclosures could happen, he said.
However, unlike the last economic downturn more than a decade ago, more homeowners have equity in their homes, Reddy said, and refinancing could help because of low interest rates.
Reddy predicts the inventory of homes for sale will be tight when the pandemic ends, which would mean intense competition among buyers, resulting in higher prices.
Homes are still selling in
A duplex on
A single-family home in the South Park neighborhood on
Another home in St. Anne's Hill was listed the evening of
The housing market is still very strong, she said, and with limited inventory in many areas, homes sell quickly.
"A hot home will sell within hours with multiple offers," she said. "Many buyers are having to pay above the list price to have a chance."
However, she said, some people have been laid off or furloughed, possibly leading to reluctance to make a move if they are worried they won't have a job in the future.
Zillow forecasts that home sales will fall as much as 60% this spring and will not recover until the end of next year.
Until March, when the pandemic hit, this spring was expected to be the "hottest home shopping season in years," the company said.
But Zillow predicts that home prices will drop only 2 to 3% through the end of 2020, and should recover next year.
Homeownership can act as a buffer when households fall on hard times, because they can borrow against their home and they have an additional asset to weigh against their debts, said Fallon, with the
Nationally ownership of a primary residence accounts for about 62% of owner's assets, and steady, long-term increases in home values provide a large boost in owners' wealth, she said.
When homeownership increases, it tends to mean residents are benefiting from decreased monthly housing costs (because it suggests buying is cheaper than renting) or an increase in wealth through equity building, she said.
But, she said, a sharp downturn in the market and the economy can cause home values to fall, potentially putting owners underwater.
Owning a home is the most valued long-term investment families make, said
"Personal wealth and home ownership, perhaps, should be looked at as one in the same," he said.
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