The national homeowner vacancy rate reached 2.8 percent in the first quarter -- the highest level on record, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today, while the home-ownership rate dipped slightly to 68.4 percent. The homeowner vacancy rate, a gauge of the number of unoccupied units for sale vs. the total homeowner inventory, was 2.1 percent in first-quarter 2006 and has risen for seven consecutive quarters. A high vacancy rate can indicate an oversupply of housing units while a low vacancy rate can indicate a shortage in supply of housing units. This rate was about 4 percent in principal cities, 2.9 percent inside metropolitan statistical areas, 2.4 percent in the suburbs and 2.2 percent outside of metropolitan areas in the first quarter. That compares to a rate of 2.5 percent in principal cities, 2 percent inside metropolitan areas, 1.8 percent in suburbs and 2.2 percent outside of metropolitan statistical areas in first-quarter 2006. Regionally, the homeowner vacancy rate rose from 2.3...
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