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Vacant Homes on Market Edge Upward

The number of vacant residential properties for sale inched up to 2.23 million units in the third quarter of 2008 from 2.1 million units in the second quarter, according to a ""Census Bureau"":http://www.census.gov report released last week.
Despite promising indications that potential home buyers are beginning to step off the sidelines in anticipation of finding a deal in a buyer's market, the foreclosure crisis continues to pad inventories of vacant, unsold homes. The ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org (NAR) ""recently said"":http://dsnews.comview_story.cfmxid=3076 that sales of existing homes in September were up 1.4 percent from a year earlier, the first such rise since November 2005, largely reflecting sales of foreclosed homes.
Although sales of these properties may be showing improvements, the Census Bureau reported that national vacancy rates for the most part haven't changed. For homeowner vacancies, the current rate of 2.8 percent was only slightly higher than in the third quarter of 2007 (2.7 percent).
Economists have argued strongly that before housing inventories can stabilize and become more manageable, activity within the home building sector has to subside. Last week, the Census Bureau reported that new home sales in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000 units, down 33 percent from September 2007 - perhaps a signal that more previously-occupied homes will be offloaded in the months to come.
Still, housing analysts caution that many existing homes not currently listed for sale may hit the market in the next year or two. This looming supply includes pending foreclosures and properties temporarily taken off the market while their owners await stronger demand.
Yesterday, ""%{=FONT-STYLE: italic}DSNews.com% reported"":http://dsnews.comview_story.cfmxid=3111 on figures put forth by NAR, postulating that by cutting mortgage rates across the board by just one percent, the national housing inventory could be slashed by 20 percent. That would lower the market backlog from a 9.9 month supply to 7.5 months.
For additional information on the Census Bureau's ""Housing Vacancies and Homeownership Report,"" including data breakdowns, tables, and historical statistics, ""click here"":http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/qtr308/q308ind.html.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.
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