The national homeownership rate ticked up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2017, but the U.S. Census Bureau said the change, from 63.9 percent in the third quarter to 64.2 percent in the fourth was not statistically different.  The rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 was 63.7 percent.  The rate has improved only slightly since reaching a historic low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016.  Homeownership in the U.S. peaked at 69.2 percent in 2004.

The rate was, as usual, highest among the oldest groups of Americans.  Those 55 to 64 years old had a rate of 75.3 percent, up 0.5 point from a year earlier while 79.2 percent of those over age 65 were homeowners, a fraction lower than in the previous fourth quarter.

The year-over-year increase was greatest among the much-watched Millennials, those under age 35, who had been slower than earlier generations in becoming homeowners.  Their rate was up 1.3 point to 36.0 percent over the 12-month period.  The other two age groups posted only tiny annual changes. Those 35 years to 44 years of age had a rate of 58.9 percent and the 45 to 54 cohort's rate was 69.5 percent.

The highest homeownership was in the Midwest at 68.7 percent. This was followed by a 65.8 percent rate in the South, 60.6 percent in the Northeast, and 60.0 percent in the West.  All four regions posted small gains compared to a year earlier, none exceeding a single percentage point.

The rates of minority homeownership continue to lag far behind that of non-Hispanic Whites.  That group's 72.7 percent rate was only slightly changed from a year earlier but grew by 1.2 percentage point since the Q2 2016 low.  Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders followed at 58.2 percent. The rate of Black homeownership was 42.1 percent and Hispanic rate was 46.6 percent.

The Bureau's Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership Report also notes an 0.2 percent decline in the homeowner vacancy rate from the fourth quarter of 2016 to 1.6 percent. The rental vacancy rate, 6.9 percent, was virtually unchanged from a year earlier.  

There were an estimated 136.9 million housing units in the country at the end of the fourth quarter, a gain of 0.9 million from the prior year.  Of the 120.19 million occupied units (a 1.4 million annual increase), 77.19 million were owner occupied (up by 1.5 million), and 43.00 million were rented, a slight decline. The median asking rent for a vacant rental unit was $910 per month and the median asking price for vacant for-sale units was $197,000.