Real estate

Home Ownership at Lowest Level in 18 Years

Renting isn't the end of the world

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The U.S. homeownership rate, which soared to a record high 69 percent in 2004, is back where it was two decades ago, before the housing bubble inflated, busted and ripped more than 7 million Americans from their homes.

With ownership at 65 percent and home values rising, housing industry and consumer groups are pressing lawmakers to make the American Dream more inclusive by ensuring new mortgage standards designed to prevent another crash are flexible enough that more families can benefit from the recovery. Regulators are close to proposing a softened version of a rule requiring banks to keep a stake in risky mortgages they securitize, according to five people familiar with the discussions.