National Housing Market Outlook

Housing in One Graphic

John Burns photo

John Burns

May 3, 2012

The following graphic summarizes the U.S. housing market. The red boxes are a small percentage of the total, yet are receiving all the media and political attention.

Let’s not forget the overwhelming positives:

  • 22% of American households own their home free and clear of any mortgage
  • 34% of American households own their home and have equity in it
  • 34% of American households rent
That totals 90% of American households.

Of the 40.6 million who rent:

  • 42% rent in a small apartment building
  • 27% rent a single family home
  • 20% rent in a large apartment building
  • 6% rent a condo
  • 5% rent a mobile home, boat, etc.

So I have a few questions:

  • Why are some of our leaders asking 90% of Americans to bail out the 10% who have no equity in their home?
  • What happens when the 1.5 million excess vacant homes are filled, which is already occurring in many neighborhoods across the country?
  • Why is the apartment REIT market so popular with institutional investors, when it is less than 20% of rental units?
  • What happens when the family renting a home for $1100/month cleans up their credit and buys the same home with a mortgage payment of $800?

Americans make astute financial decisions, at least in the short-term (our addiction to debt will hurt us in the long-term). We will bailout very few homeowners. We will increase construction by building in the ever-increasing number of areas that need homes and builders can make a profit. We will figure out how to make portfolio investments in the massive single-family rental market. We will buy homes if it makes financial sense for us to do so.

I am reminded of a famous Winston Churchill quote: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” The excesses from the housing bubble are gradually clearing.

Building Market Intelligence™

Every week, we deliver analysis to over 40,000 subscribers with our Building Market Intelligence™ newsletter. Subscribe to our weekly BMI newsletters to stay current on pressing topics in the housing industry.

About The Author

John Burns photo
John Burns
Chief Executive Officer
As CEO, John grows, leads, and supports a team of passionate, articulate, likable, and smart experts. Together, we solve today so our clients can navigate to tomorrow.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our services or if you would like to speak to one of our experts about we can help your business, please contact Client Relations at

Products and Services Mentioned

green check icon

Research Membership

Our research services enable our clients to gauge housing market conditions and better align their business and strategic investments in the housing industry. We provide a thoughtful and unique holistic approach of both quantitative and qualitative analysis to help clients make informed housing investment decisions.
green check icon

Burns US Housing Analysis and Forecast

Our national housing thesis on all macro US issues impacting the housing market. Insights and analysis on economic growth and risks, consumer behavior and finances, mortgage underwriting and policy, first-time and investor buyer activity, and national demand and supply.
green check icon

Real Estate Consulting

Our experienced team of consultants helps clients make sound housing investment decisions. We thrive on their success and work with many clients over multiple years and numerous projects.

Latest Insights

Unlocking the Potential of Generative AI and Large Language Models for Your Business
Dear Consultant: How do we get more inventory so that the housing market has more slack?
Busting Gen Z Myths—What the Housing Industry Needs to Know