It seemed like a race to the bottom this year: Along with continued declines in property values, every season seemed to see another record low in interest rates -- though fewer-than-expected buyers were inclined to take advantage. Also on the way down or stuck in the cellar: the number of Americans who expected to buy their own home and their chances of qualifying to own one -- though some scaled down their aspirations by looking into building smaller, more economical houses.
But perhaps the most significant decline came in the realization of the American dream. U.S. Census figures put the rate of homeownship at its lowest level since the Great Depression -- 65.1 percent, with some analysts saying that the U.S. might never return to its mid-decade housing boom peak, when about 70 percent of occupied households were owned by their residents.
And though some analysts were still predicting even lower housing prices, and still more foreclosures, there were hopeful signs. A rise in home construction inspired more optimism among homebuilders. And some of the cities that have suffered most during the housing crisis finally saw significant movement in their real estate markets.
(Pictured above: An eviction team removes a family's possessions from a foreclosed home in Longmont, Colo., in September.)
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