Posted by Rapti Gupta on Feb 24, 2014 02:17 PM EST

65 percent of Americans now own a home, Census Bureau reports

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US Home Ownership Data: 65 percent Americans now own a home, Census Bureau. (Photo : Reuters)

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 65 percent of the people in the country now own a home.

In the latest press release, the Bureau revealed that home ownership was the highest in West Virginia at 73 percent, and the lowest in New York City at 53 percent. Not surprisingly then, the Big Apple topped the list of the highest number of rented households at 69 percent.

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Home ownership has declined by 2 percent since 2000, reaching just 65.2 percent by the end of January - about 0.1 percent lower than the previous quarter.

However, experts say the home-ownership figures can be misleading.

"Young people finally moving out of their parents' homes into their own rental units would cause the homeownership rate to fall, even though that would be a healthy sign. Unfortunately neither today's Census report nor other surveys give us a clear, definitive view on how quickly people are re-entering the housing market," Jed Kolko, chief economist and vice president of analytics for Trulia, told Housing Wire.

The statistics coincide with another recent report released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) stating that home affordability in the United States was steady in the fourth quarter. About 64.7 percent of the homes were affordable to families earning a median income of $64,400, it reported.

"Housing affordability is stabilizing at a time when pent-up demand and ongoing job growth are helping housing markets across the nation to gradually strengthen," NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly said in a statement.

Limited supply, the harsh weather and growing mortgage rates have curbed buyer enthusiasm in the country. In a recent report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said the factors have created a rough balance between buyers and sellers, with the percentage of first-time home buyers reportedly hitting its lowest market share in January since the NAR began monthly measurements in October 2008.

Experts are predicting 2014 to be a strong year for the real estate market, saying that more homes should be available by April or May. They also predict fewer homeowners to be underwater, saying people should expect prices to rise by an average of 3 percent and mortgage rates to rise to at least 5 percent by mid-year, reports Forbes.

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