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WASHINGTON, April 29 Homeownership in the United
States fell in the first quarter to its lowest level in more
than 18 years, suggesting it will take a while for housing to
heal from the 2007-2009 recession's deep scars.
The seasonally adjusted homeownership rate, the share of
households owning a home, slipped to 65 percent, the Commerce
Department said on Tuesday. That was the lowest reading since
the third quarter of 1995.
Homeownership, which peaked at 69.4 percent in 2004, had
hovered at 65.1 percent since the second quarter of last year.
The latest slide is a bad signal for housing, whose recovery has
faltered after a run-up in mortgage interest rates last summer.
A combination of high unemployment, stringent lending
practices by financial institutions and high house prices is
pushing home buying out of the reach of many Americans.
The low ownership rate also suggests the housing market
recovery of the last three years was driven by investors who
were snapping up properties and converting them into rental
While the residential rental vacancy rate ticked up by a
tenth of a percentage point to 8.3 percent in the first quarter,
it was well below its 11.1 percent peak in 2009.
In the first quarter of 2014, the median asking monthly rent
was $766, up from $746 in the prior three months.
Homeownership continued to decline for those 35 years old
and younger, but held steady for those between 45 and 54.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)