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Homeownership Remains at 18-Year Low, Residential Vacancy Rates Flat in Third Quarter

The nation's homeownership rate was 65.1 percent in the third quarter, seasonally adjusted, unchanged from the second quarter and continuing the lowest rate since the last three months of 1995. Homeownership fell from a 65.3 percent rate in the third quarter last year. The rate peaked during the housing boom at 69.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, in the second quarter of 2004.

Housing vacancy rates and homeownership levels remained essentially flat during the third quarter of 2013, according to Census Bureau data, keeping the latter category at an 18-year low despite a slight uptick from the second quarter.

The Census Bureau reported on November 5 that the vacancy rate for residential rental property was 8.3 percent, up 0.1 percentage points from the second quarter and 0.3 percentage points lower than in the third quarter of 2012. Homeowner vacancies were virtually unchanged from both the previous quarter and a year earlier at 1.9 percent.

Rental vacancies peaked at 11.1 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and hit a recent low at 8.2 percent in the second quarter of this year. Homeowner vacancies dropped below 2.0 percent in the second quarter of this year for the first time since the financial crisis began, after remaining near recent highs of 2.8 to 2.9 percent throughout 2008, according to a Mortgage News Daily report.

Homeowner vacancy rates were highest outside metropolitan statistical areas (2.4 percent) and lowest in the suburbs (1.7 percent); regionally, the South again had the highest rate, 2.2 percent, and the Midwest the second highest at 2.0 percent. The West and Northeast followed with rates of 1.6 and 1.5 percent respectively.

Homeownership has trended down fairly steadily since peaking in mid-2006. The rate picked up slightly in the third quarter rising from 65.0 to 65.3 percent and was 0.2 percentage points lower than a year earlier but the Bureau said that seasonality factors made the small changes statistically insignificant.

The homeownership rate, as always, was highest among those 65 years of age or older (81.1 percent) non-Hispanic whites (73.3 percent) with incomes higher than the median for their area (79.9 percent). Rates were lowest for those under age 36 (36.8 percent), African-Americans (43.1 percent) and families with below-median incomes (50.6 percent).

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December 11, 2019, 1:17 pm PDT

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