Homeownership drops: Is that such a bad thing?

A recent University of Utah study projects that homeownership rates, which have declined slightly since their 2004 peak, will drop to 1980's levels within the next year. The study's authors attribute this to increasing numbers of immigrants, the subprime mortgage crisis, smaller households, and a demographic shift as boomers transition into empty-nesters.

A better explanation may be that this study, as it currently stands, is much ado about nothing. According to the U.S. Census bureau, homeownership rates are currently pegged at 67.4 percent. While this represents a 0.1 percent increase over the last quarter, it is also a 0.1 decreaseover the last quarter of 2008, suggesting that a large part of what we are seeing may be a seasonal fluctuation. By comparison, the rental vacancy rate jumped 0.5 percent in the same period of time.