No surprise here: Fewer Americans own their own home

Home ownership is on the decline nationally after rising to record levels in 2005, as the painful epidemic of foreclosures continues. The rate of home ownership peaked in 2004 at 69 percent and fell to 67.4 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

That may seem a slight difference, but every percentage point equals roughly 1 million people.

Those who lose their homes through foreclosure often become renters, although many others will move in with friends or relatives.

Some experts say the trend isn't temporary. The collapse of the housing bubble and the disappearance of easy credit coincides with demographic changes that will drive down the rate of home ownership — and drive up the number of renters — to levels last seen in the 1970s or '80s.

Long-term, they say, landlords will be the beneficiaries as home ownership rates return to the levels of 20 and 30 years ago.

In a recent study, University of Utah professor Arthur Nelson estimated that home ownership will decline over the next two decades to perhaps 64 percent, about where it was in 1990, or lower, but not below 60 percent.

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