About 7.2 million homeowners took out home equity lines of credit last year, up 12 percent from 2001 when 6.4 million such credit lines were established, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The statistics came from the American Housing Survey, which is sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The survey provides information on a variety of topics, including home ownership, characteristics of homes and their owners, housing costs, vacation homes, gated communities and people’s views of their neighborhoods.

Some highlights from the 2003 American Housing Survey included:

  • About 3.8 million homeowners had lump-sum home equity mortgages, down nearly 20 percent from 2001, when there were 4.7 million such loans.

  • Homeowners occupied more than 72 million homes. Overall, the nation had about 106 million occupied housing units.

  • Renters occupied 33.6 million housing units.

  • The nation’s median current mortgage interest rate was 6.7 percent, down from 7.5 percent in 2001.

  • The median value of owner-occupied homes was $140,000.

  • Between 2001 and 2003, the number of owner-occupied units with four or more bedrooms increased by about 1 million to 18.7 million.

  • There were 3 million owner-occupied homes in gated communities.

  • The vacancy rate for rental housing units was 9.6 percent, up from 7.8 percent in 2001.

The American Housing Survey was first conducted in 1973.

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