The boom and bust in housing markets defined the opening decade of the 21st century. Sharp declines in house prices served as a catalyst for the 2007 meltdown in mortgage and capital markets and the downturn in the global economy. The past decade also witnessed a dramatic boom and bust in homeownership. In 2000, U.S. homeownership rates stood at roughly 67 percent, the highest level recorded to that point in time. That rate jumped to a new all-time high of 69.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004 and remained at roughly that level through the middle of 2006. With the onset of the 2007 financial crisis, homeownership rates have dropped, falling to 66.4 percent in the first quarter of 2011.