U.S. Homeownership Rate Falls to Lowest Level Since 1999

Wed, Jul 28, 2010


By: Carrie Bay

The nation’s foreclosure crisis and economic pressures, such as rising unemployment, continue to batter the U.S. housing market, as evidenced by the latest figures from the Census Bureau on homeownership rates.

Data released by the federal agency Tuesday shows that the U.S. homeownership rate dropped to 66.9 percent during the second quarter of this year, hitting its lowest mark in more than 10 years.

The Census Bureau reports that approximately 85.6 percent of the housing units in the United States last quarter were occupied. Owner-occupied homes made up

57.3 percent of total housing units, while renter-occupied units made up 28.3 percent of the inventory.

The number of homes sitting empty during the second quarter, including foreclosures and residences for sale, as well as vacation homes, claimed 14.4 percent of the nation’s total housing stock. Vacant properties rose from 18.6 million in Q2 2009 to 18.9 million in Q2 2010, according to the Census Bureau’s report.

As the homeownership rate continues its slide and turmoil in the market has many would-be buyers questioning the soundness of sinking their money into a home, apartment landlords are experiencing a surge in rental activity.

A separate report released by the market analytics firm MPF Research shows that 215,000 previously empty apartment units in the largest U.S. markets became occupied during the first half of this year.

The company says that six-month figure is nearly double the number of units that were filled during the full 2009 year, and the highest mid-year tally since MPF began tracking apartment occupancy statistics in 1992.

The firm found that the apartment vacancy rate fell to 6.6 percent as of the end of June, down from 8.2 percent last December.

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