WASHINGTON Jan 29 The share of privately owned
U.S. homes edged down in the fourth quarter and rental vacancies
rose, government data showed on Tuesday, underscoring the
challenges still confronting the housing market recovery.
The homeownership rate slipped to 65.4 percent from 65.5
percent in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said.
While the housing market recovery appears to be gaining
traction, high unemployment and stringent lending standards are
keeping many from owning a home.
The homeownership rate peaked at 69.2 percent in 2004 at the
height of a housing market boom fueled by cheap credit.
In the fourth quarter, the home ownership rate was pulled
down by a 1.4 percentage points decline in ownership among the
35-44 age group.
The residential rental vacancy rate ticked up to 8.7 percent
from 8.6 percent in the third quarter. It peaked at 11.1 percent
in the third quarter of 2009.
Owner-occupied housing units made up 56.6 percent of total
housing units, while renter-occupied units made up 30.0 percent
of the inventory in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Vacant units that were held off market comprised 5.5 percent
of the total housing stock. The share of empty privately owned
houses was steady at 1.9 percent.