Lowest home rate ever

The home ownership rate in the U.S. fell to 65.4% in the first quarter, hitting a 15-year low amid still-high foreclosure rates and a stronger market for rents.

The rate is lower than the 66% from the fourth quarter and the 66.4% from the first quarter of last year, according to the Census Bureau. The rate hit a high of 69.2% in 2004, before the housing bubble burst.

The housing market has been trying to recover ever since. Several reports have suggested that the market has turned a corner, with pending home sales up and housing values bottoming.

But foreclosure rates are still high (and may continue to increase following a landmark settlement with loan servicers earlier this year).

In the first quarter, 74.6 million housing units were occupied by owners. Home ownership is down in every region, falling to 59.9% in the West. The region, which has the lowest rate in the country, hasn’t had such a small percentage of homeowners since at least 2006.

Rates among minorities continue to trail the nationwide numbers. Black home ownership is at 43.1%; the Hispanic rate is 46.3%

Vacancy rates at rental properties fell to 8.8% — their lowest level in a decade. Rents, which are at a median $721, are at a post-recession high.

The median sales prices for vacant units – a number that spiked in 2007 but has slipped steadily since – is $133,700.

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