The U.S. homeownership rate remained at the lowest level since 1999 – at 66.9 percent in the third quarter of 2010 – a byproduct of the foreclosure crisis and the overall housing market slump.
The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the homeownership rate has not been this low since hitting 66.7 percent in 1999.
At the height of the house-buying boom in 2004, the rate peaked at 69 percent, rising from about 64 percent in the early 1990s.
Since the financial crisis of 2008 — and an unabated foreclosure crisis that has followed — homeownership levels have been declining.
The homeownership rate of 66.9 percent was 0.7 percent lower than the third quarter 2009 rate (67.6 percent), and approximately the same as the rate last quarter, also 66.9 percent.
The Census Bureau also said that about 18.8 million homes, or 14.4 percent of houses and apartments, were vacant, according to the government survey. That was down slightly from the second quarter of the year, when 18.9 million houses and apartments were vacant.
Foreclosure activity was up 65 percent in U.S. metro areas in the third quarter of 2010, compared to the same period last year, according to RealtyTrac.
Cities in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona accounted for all top 10 foreclosure rates in the third quarter among metropolitan areas with a population of 200,000 or more, RealtyTrac reported. Cities outside those four states accounted for many of the biggest increases in metro foreclosure activity.
Banks seized a record 288,345 homes in the third quarter, up 22 percent from a year earlier, RealtyTrac said.