While some people spent the 1990s tossing their capital at dot-com ventures, far more Americans were investing their money in something more tangible. The ’90s deserve to be remembered as the decade when vast numbers of people became homeowners. Citing its own research and a University of Southern California study, the Fannie Mae Foundation says the ’90s produced “the largest home-ownership rate increase since the 1950s.” This was partly a function of the aging of the baby boomers, whose ownership rate rose from 66.2 percent to 75.3 percent. Also important was the role of minorities, who accounted for 40 percent of the decade’s 10.8 million increase in the number of owners. Another study, by the Homeownership Alliance, says ownership “is likely to grow faster among minority Americans in the next decade.” Hispanics bought 39 percent more houses in 2000 than in 1994; blacks bought 24 percent more. This report also notes the unexpected role of senior citizens in keeping the housing market firm. Due to “the combination of increased longevity plus the stock market gains of the 1980s and 1990s,” seniors have become net buyers of homes. Aided by such factors, the total national homeownership rate could surpass 70 percent by 2010.
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