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3Q homeownership rate moves off lowest level in 13 years

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The third-quarter homeownership rate rose to 66.3% in the third quarter, up from 65.9% in the previous quarter, which was the lowest since 1998. The quarterly increase was the first increase in two years. When comparing quarter to quarter, U.S. homeownership dipped slightly from 66.9% in 3Q 2010, but remains near the lowest level in 13 years, according to the Census Bureau. "The homeownership rate remains at a level that suggests America's love-affair with housing is still on the rocks," analysts at Toronto-based Capital Economics said. The Midwest had the highest homeownership rate at 70.3%, followed by the South at 68.4%, the Northeast with 63.7% and 60.7% in the West. Homeownership rates peaked nationwide at 69.2% in both the second quarter and fourth quarter of 2004. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday that mortgage applications ticked higher 0.2% this week. Rental vacancies in the third quarter rose to 9.8% from 9.2% in the second quarter, according to the Census Bureau. Rates were highest in the South at 12.2%, followed by the Midwest (10.5%), the Northeast (8%) and the West (7.3%). "The modest increase in the rental vacancy rate in the third quarter does little to alter our view that rental yields will soon rise above 5.5%, comfortably beating the yields available on Treasurys and equities," Capital Economics said. Vacancies for all housing types saw a small drop as well for the third quarter at 18.8 million, or 14.2% of all housing, down from 18.9 million a year earlier. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.

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