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by CareyBot

National vacancy rates for rental units in the first quarter increased from a year earlier, while homeowner vacancies remained virtually the same, the Department of Commerce's Census Bureau announced today.   Rental housing vacancy rates were 10.4 percent in the first quarter, up from first-quarter 2003's rate of 9.4 percent, and slightly higher than the fourth quarter's 10.2 percent rate.   Homeowner housing vacancy rates were at 1.7 percent in the first quarter, unchanged from the same quarter a year ago, and slightly lower than the fourth-quarter rate of 1.8 percent.   For rental housing, the suburbs (9.7 percent) had the lowest vacancy rate, while rates outside metropolitan areas (11 percent) and in central cities (10.8 percent) were not different from each other. The re...