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Homeownership Rate Falls to 10-Year Low

In the first quarter of 2010, the national homeownership rate fell to its lowest level since the first quarter of 2000, according to a ""report"":http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/qtr110/files/q110press.pdf released Monday by the ""U.S. Census Bureau."":http://www.census.gov/

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The seasonally-adjusted homeownership rate of 67.2 percent in the first quarter of this year was 0.2 percent lower than the first quarter of 2009 and 0.1 percent below last quarter's rate. The last time the homeownership rate was this low was exactly 10 years ago in the first quarter of 2000 when the rate was at 67.1 percent.

Homeownership rates varied from region to region in the first quarter, with the highest rate in the Midwest, at 70.9 percent. The South wasn't far behind with a rate of 69.2 percent, but the Northeast came in noticeably lower with a rate of 64.4 percent. Levels were the lowest in the West, where the homeownership rate was 61.9 percent.

Also included in the Census Bureau's report was data on national vacancy rates. In the first quarter of 2010, the vacancy rate for homeowner housing was at 2.6 percent, coming in 0.1 percent lower than both the first quarter 2009 rate and the rate last quarter.

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The lowest regional homeowner vacancy rate in the first quarter of this year was in the Northeast, at 1.8 percent. Rates in all other regions were not statistically different from each other, ranging from 2.6 percent to 2.8 percent.

While the vacany rate for homeonwer housing was fairly low, it was a different story for rental housing. The national vacancy rate for rental housing was 10.6 percent, 0.5 percent greater than the first quarter of 2009 but 0.1 percent lower than last quarter's rate.

Regionally, the rental vacancy rate was the highest in the South, at 13.2 percent, and it was lowest in the Northeast, at 7.5 percent. The Midwest and West filled in the gap between these extremes, at 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Taking into account both homeowner and rental vacancy rates, approximately 14.5 percent of housing units were vacant in the first quarter of 2010. Year-round vacant units comprised 11 percent of total housing units, while 3.5 percent were for seasonal use. Approximately 3.4 percent of the units were for rent, 1.5 percent were for sale only, and 0.6 percent were rented or sold but not yet occupied.

Vacant units that were held off market comprised 5.4 percent of the total housing stock. Of these units, 1.7 percent were for occasional use only, 1 percent were temporarily occupied by usual residence elsewhere, and 2.8 percent were for a variety of other reasons.

The remaining 85.5 percent of total housing units were occupied in the first quarter of this year. Owner-occupied housing units comprised 57.4 percent of this total and renter-occupied properties made up 28.1 percent of the total units.

About Author: Brittany Dunn

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