The American dream erased: Homeownership at 18-year low

“Low down-payment loans coupled with exotic adjustable rate mortgages helped fuel a massive housing bubble, which ultimately burst and took down the financial sector,” said Sanders, who was the former head of mortgage-bond research at Deutsche Bank AG. “So the question now is do we want to do this again?”

The latest homeownership rate, set to be released today by the Census Bureau, will hit bottom at about 64 percent in the next year as families leave the foreclosure pipeline and enter rental homes, according to a May analysis by London-based Capital Economics Inc. It’s currently the lowest in almost 18 years after averaging 64 percent for 30 years through 1995.

First-time buyers and minorities are among the groups that have seen the sharpest declines since the crash. While property ownership among senior citizens was little changed in the first quarter at about 80 percent, the share below age 35 that own a home fell to 37 percent from almost 42 percent five years earlier.