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Homeownership at 19-year low

WASHINGTON -- The homeownership rate in the United States fell to a 19-year low, as rising prices and tight credit kept many first-time buyers out of the property market.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 64.7 percent in the second quarter, down from 64.8 percent in the previous three months, the Census Bureau said in a report Tuesday. The rate matched the level in the second quarter of 1995.

Housing has become less affordable and more difficult to finance for entry-level buyers, even as mortgage rates have held close to record lows.

First-time purchasers accounted for 28 percent of all sales of previously owned homes in June, compared with about 40 percent historically, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“The first-time buyers are the ones who would be the net addition to homeownership,” Millan Mulraine, deputy head of U.S. research and strategy at TD Securities USA LLC in New York, said. “Those people, who are generally college grads or the ones who just got married, are not owning homes like they used to. Credit is tighter, they’re laden with student loans and their incomes are lower than they used to be.”

The homeownership rate for all Americans peaked at 69.2 percent in June 2004 and plunged as the housing market crashed, according to the Census Bureau.

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