The homeownership rate fell to a level not seen since 1999 in the second quarter, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The rate had previously fallen to 2000 levels in the first quarter.

The rate, 66.9 percent, was about 0.2 percentage points lower than the first quarter’s rate of 67.1 percent, and about 0.5 percentage points lower than 2009’s second-quarter rate, 67.4 percent, the report said. Homeownership peaked in 2004, when it was at 69.2 percent for both the second and fourth quarters.

Rental and homeowner vacancy rates — 10.6 percent for rentals and 2.5 percent for homeowner housing — remained essentially flat compared to the first quarter and the second quarter of 2009.

The former is the highest second-quarter vacancy rate since the agency began keeping records in 1956. The second-quarter peak for homeowner vacancy was in 2008, when it was 2.8 percent. The overall vacancy rate nationwide in the second quarter was 14.4 percent.

Regionally, the West and the South saw the biggest quarter-over-quarter declines in homeownership, to 61.4 percent from 62.5 percent in the West, and to 69.1 percent from 70 percent in the South. The Midwest had the highest rate and was the only region to see its rate increase in the past year: to 70.8 percent from 70.5 percent. The rate in the Northeast stayed roughly level at 64.2 percent.


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