Home vacancies experience further decline in third quarter

The rate of residential housing vacancies during the third quarter fell slightly, which brought the figure to its lowest rate since before the market's crash.

The rate of residential housing vacancies during the third quarter fell slightly, which brought the figure to its lowest rate since before the market's crash.

Property data showed the rate fell to 1.9 percent last quarter, which was a slight decline from the second quarter's figure of 2.1 percent. The information, from the Department of Commerce, showed that this was the first time residential vacancies declined to this level since the third quarter of 2005.

Despite the information from the government's real estate records, some experts noted there are still issues with the current state of the housing market.

"Even with the housing recovery well under way, the share of Americans who own their own home remains more or less at a 16-year low," Paul Diggle, property economist at Capital Economics, told Reuters. This fact is a reminder that, to date, the recovery still owes a lot to investor demand."

Increased investor activity may have contributed to the decline in vacant home rental properties. The Commerce Department noted that homes for rent during the third quarter was unchanged from the previous quarter's figure, at 8.6 percent. However, this was more than one percentage point lower than the third quarter of last year.

Additionally, the homeownership rate during the third quarter was the same as the previous three months, as it stood at 65.5 percent, the report explained. Meanwhile, this figure dropped by nearly one percentage point from the third quarter last year, when homeownership was 66.3 percent. The latest level was still far off from the peak of more than 69 percent, recorded in July 2004.

The level of occupied homes was more than 114 million during the third quarter, which was approximately one million higher year-over-year.

Home sales reveal mixed picture
Despite the low homeownership rate, there is still progress being made in the country's recovery. Specifically, the National Association of Realtors reported earlier this month that existing-home sales rose 11 percent to a rate of 4.75 million at the end of September compared to the same month in 2011. However, this was more than 1.5 percent lower than the 4.83 million-unit rate in August.

While home sales recently seemed to stumble, this is a normal aspect of the housing market's transition from summer to autumn.



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