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Where is homeownership highest in California?

California may be a tough spot to buy a home  – but don’t tell that to house hunters in the Inland Empire.

When my trusty spreadsheet looked at homeownership data from the Census Bureau for 75 large U.S. metropolitan areas – including six from California – comparing 2023 results with pre-pandemic 2019, it found the region comprising Riverside and San Bernardino counties moving up the charts.

Last year, Inland Empire ownership averaged 70.7%, the 14th highest rate among the 75 metros. That share was up sharply from 64.3%, in 2019 when it ranked No. 41. This 6.3 percentage-points improvement was seventh-best among the 75.

Consider how coronavirus rearranged the economy – notably an extended period of historically cheap mortgages as health concerns created demands for larger living quarters.

The Inland Empire’s housing market benefitted from its relatively affordable housing – selling prices for single-family homes ran $562,000 last year, according to the California Association of Realtors vs. $815,000 statewide.

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Plus, there’s been a major push by homebuilders to create more residences. The IE had 19% of California building permits for single-family residences during the past four years.

And the work-from-home rush allowed Southern California’s coastal workers to consider owning a home farther inland.

Other California locales far from the Pacific also grew ownership sharply.

Fresno’s 54% ownership rate may have been the nation’s fourth-lowest, but it was up from 49% in 2019 (second-worst). That 5-percentage-point jump ranked No. 13 among the 75.

Sacramento ownership also surged to 64.4% (No. 47) from 61.7% in 2019 (No. 54). The 2.7-point gain ranked No. 32.

Two Bay Area markets had growing ownership, too – but that may be due to an exit of renters in the pandemic era.

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San Francisco’s 55% ownership rate (No. 70) was up from 52.8% (No. 71) – a 2.1-point gain. (No. 36). San Jose’s 53.5% (No. 73) vs. 52.5% (No. 72) was up 1.1 points (No. 46).

The inland surge may help explain other Southern California declines.

Los Angeles’s 48% rate was the national low vs. 48.2% (also last) – off 0.2 points (No. 54). And San Diego’s 54.5% (No. 71) vs. 56.8% (No. 68) was down 2.3 points (No. 65)

The statewide ownership rate was 55.9% – third-lowest nationally – but that was up from 54.8% in 2019 (also third-worst). The 1-point gain ranked No. 34.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

Source: Orange County Register

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