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Homeownership Ticks Down in Fourth Quarter

The homeownership rate ticked down slightly in the fourth quarter of the year as the homeowner vacancy rate rose, according to data the Census Bureau released Friday. At the same time, the rental vacancy rate slipped down slightly.

The homeownership rate dropped 0.1 percentage point to 65.2 percent over the fourth quarter 2013. The rate was 0.2 percentage points lower than the rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the Census Bureau.

The homeowner housing vacancy rate as of the fourth quarter is 2.1 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from both the previous quarter and the same quarter a year earlier.

The rental vacancy rate remains significantly higher than the homeowner vacancy rate at 8.2 percent. However, it declined half a percentage point over the quarter.

Despite posting a greater change over the quarter than the homeowner vacancy rate, the rental vacancy rate remains close to its year-ago level, having declined just 0.1 percentage point year-over-year.

The homeownership rate remains lowest among younger Americans and increases progressively with age.

About 36.8 percent of adults under 35 own a home. The rate jumps to 60.9 percent for those between the ages of 35 and 44 and increases up to 80.7 percent for those 65 and older.

White households are the most likely to own a home with a homeownership rate of 73.4 percent.

The homeownership rate among Hispanic families is 45.5 percent and among black families, it is 43.2 percent.

Incomes also align with homeownership rates. Among families earning at least the median income, the homeownership rate is 80.2 percent, while the homeownership rate among families earning less than the median income is 50.2 percent, according to Census data. This divide has held relatively consistent over at least the last several years.

The homeownership rate is highest in the Midwest at 69.8 percent and lowest in the West at 59.3 percent. The South and Northeast fall in between with rates of 67.1 percent and 62.8 percent, respectively.

The median asking price for a vacant home in the fourth quarter was $141,000, while the median asking rent for a vacant rental unit was $746.

Homeowner vacancies were highest in cities and lowest in the suburbs. The vacancy rate in principal cities was 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter. In suburbs the rate was 1.9 percent, and outside metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), 2.2 percent of homes sat vacant.

In contrast, rental vacancies were highest outside MSAs. However, rental vacancies were also lowest in the suburbs.

The vacancy rate among rental units outside MSAs was 10.6 percent. The rate drops to 8.3 percent inside principal cities and increases to 7.4 percent in the suburbs.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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