While the percentage of American homeowners has declined since a pre-housing-crash peak in 2007, one group has resisted the national move to renting: seniors aged 65 and older.
Just about every demographic saw homeownership declines over the last seven years, according to a new data set released by polling firm Gallup last week: The overall rate dropped from 71% between 2001 and 2009 to just 63% between 2010 and 2017, or a dip of eight percentage points. Among younger Americans aged 18 to 29, the drop was 10 percentage points; for those earning less than $30,000 a year, it was 12; and it was a decline of 11 points for people of all ages and income brackets in the West.
But older Americans actually gained a percentage point, with homeownership among folks aged 65 and older rising from 81% during the pre-recession period to 82% over the last five years.
“Seniors have been immune to the trend of declining homeownership,” Gallup declared in its analysis..
The polling firm pointed to some strategic advantages that older homeowners have: Unlike their younger counterparts who bought homes with subprime mortgages during the overheated 2000s market, Americans 65 and up have largely paid off their mortgages or already downsized to smaller properties.
“In either case, they would no longer pay substantial monthly mortgage payments, and their ability to afford a home would be less tied to receiving a regular and substantial paycheck than younger Americans’ ability to afford a home is,” Gallup said in its analysis.
Gallup also speculated that federal programs designed to help seniors and low-income buyers buy properties or remain in their existing homes, along with changing work patterns that see Americans working longer into their 60s, played a role in the trends.
But the firm also warns that there could be trouble ahead for senior homeowners, citing research from the Federal Reserve Board that indicates more seniors are retiring with outstanding mortgage balances than in the past.
“Some seniors who can no longer work may be able to downsize or draw on savings or Social Security to stay in their home and thus continue to be homeowners,” Gallup observed. “But others may need to rent or move in with relatives if they do not have enough financial resources to remain homeowners.”
Read the full report and check out the all statistics at Gallup.
Written by Alex Spanko