U.S. Housing Vacancies Fall and Ownership Flat as Rentals Rise

U.S. residential vacancy rates fell in the third quarter as the growth in households outpaced construction, the Census Bureau reported.

The rate for rented homes declined to 8.6 percent from 9.8 percent a year earlier while vacancies for owner-occupied houses dropped to 1.9 percent from 2.4 percent a year earlier. Homeownership was 65.5 percent, down from 66.3 percent a year earlier and unchanged from the previous quarter.

Home starts jumped to an annual pace of 872,000 in September as demand resurfaced following the worst housing market crash since the 1930s, Commerce Department figures showed on Oct. 17. The level was a four-year high. Residential prices climbed in August by the most in two years as low interest rates, a diminishing supply of discounted foreclosed properties and a growing economy spurred demand.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities rose 2 percent in August from a year earlier, the biggest annual gain since July 2010, the group said today in New York. The median forecast of 25 economists in a Bloomberg survey projected a 1.9 percent gain.

The total number of households increased by 1.15 million over the past year to 114.7 million, according to the Census.

The U.S. homeownership rate peaked at 69.2 percent in July 2004, spurred by easy credit. It dipped to 65.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the lowest since 1997.

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