A record number of homes stood unoccupied in the first quarter, and the U.S. homeownership rate fell as the recession sapped demand for real estate.
The number of vacant homes, including foreclosures, properties for sale and vacation properties, jumped 2.7% from a year earlier, to 19.1 million, the Census Bureau said Monday. The percentage of households that own their own residence declined for the third straight quarter, to 67.3%.
The vacancy rate — the percentage of U.S. homes that were empty and for sale — fell to 2.7% in the first quarter. It stood at a record high of 2.9% in the first and fourth quarters of last year, the Census Bureau said.
There were 130.4 million homes in the United States in the first quarter, the Census Bureau said. In addition to the 2.1 million empty properties for sale, the bureau counted 4.2 million vacant homes for rent and 4.9 million seasonal properties that are used for only part of the year.
The number of homes that are unoccupied because they are under renovation climbed 5.3% from a year earlier, to 7.9 million, the bureau said.