Although housing affordability continued to hover near an all-time high, the homeownership rate slightly decreased in the second quarter.
During the three-month period, the share of Americans who owned homes dipped to 65.5 percent, from 65.9 percent a year earlier, according to a report from the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the national vacancy rate, which is homes for sale that were empty, fell to 2.1 percent.
Regionally, the Northeast had the smallest vacancy rate, at 1.7 percent, the report said. In addition, property data indicates the rates in the Midwest, South and West remained relatively unchanged at close to 2.2 percent.
While fewer prospective buyers made the transition to homeownership during the second quarter, owning property is still very much a part of the American Dream. In addition, nearly 67 percent of households want to purchase their next homes, while only 28 percent revealed they planned to remain in the rental market for the time being.
Mortgage rates edge lower
Home prices continue to stabilize throughout the country, but a recent decline in fixed mortgage rates could provide a number of affordable options for buyers in the remainder of 2012.
During the week ending September 27, the average rate for a 30-year FRM was 3.4 percent, down from 2.49 percent a week earlier, according to a report from Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 2.73 percent, from 2.77 percent. Mortgage records show both options have remained below 4 percent for all but one week so far this year.
"Fixed mortgage rates continued to decline this week, largely due to the Federal Reserve's purchases of mortgage securities, and should support an already improving housing market," said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. "For instance, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 1.2 percent over the 12 months ending in July, reflecting the largest annual increase since August 2010."
Additionally, five- and one-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.71 and 2.6 percent, respectively, according to the government-sponsored enterprise.
Although the fall and winter months often yield declines in housing activity, falling mortgage rates could hold the buyers' interest and keep the real estate industry recovery going.