Area shows increase in home ownership

December 21, 1990|By Mick Rood | Mick Rood,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- The national homeownership rate dipped to 63.9 percent last year, but a Census Bureau report released today says the number of homeowners in the Baltimore area increased more rapidly since 1986 than in all but four of the nation's 61 largest metropolitan areas.

Homeownership in Maryland as a whole slipped from 67.8 percent to 65.5 percent between 1986 and 1989, the bureau said.

The Census Bureau said the decline in homeownership nationally during the 1980s was the first decade-long decline since the 1930s.

But in the Baltimore standard metropolitan statistical area, the percentage of homeowners increased from 58.8 percent in 1986 to 62.9 percent in 1989. The only bigger increases during the late 1980s were in San Jose, Calif.; the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News area in Virginia; Milwaukee, Wis., and the Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterton area in New Jersey.

The Baltimore metropolitan statistical area includes the city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties.

Fletcher Hall, director of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, linked the trend toward increased homeownership in the Baltimore area to several factors. Compared to many big cities, he said, Baltimore City has always had a tradition of homeownership passed down from family to family.

"It is also a very affordable market compared to say, Washington, D.C., that has not had the crazy fluctuations [in prices] experienced in Boston or Orange County, Calif.," Hall said.

A good mix of housing stock -- older homes as compared to new ones that are automatically high-priced -- has helped keep prices down, Hall said.

Finally, Hall said a good transportation system that connects with such amenities as the Inner Harbor has "brought people [to the Baltimore area] and they stay."

The report said a major factor in the decline was a drop in ownership rates for non-married couple families during the decade.

Home ownership by families headed by an adult without a spouse present fell from 49.6 percent in 1982 to 46.5 percent in 1989.

And that drop occurred for both sexes. Home ownership by families headed by men without a wife present fell from 59.3 percent to 55.7 percent. Home ownership by families headed by a woman with no husband dropped from 47.1 percent to 44.1 percent.

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