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Home Ownership at Lowest Level in a Decade

The nation's homeownership rate remained at its lowest in more than a decade, hampered by a rise in foreclosures and weak demand for housing.

The percentage of households that owned their homes was unchanged at 66.9 percent in the July-September quarter, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. That's the same as the April-June quarter.

The last time the rate was lower was in 1999, when the rate was 66.7 percent.

The homeownership rate was around 64 percent from 1985 through 1995. It then rose dramatically during the Clinton and Bush administrations, hitting a peak of more than 69 percent in 2004 at the height of the housing boom.

After the housing bubble burst, the rate has been declining gradually.

About 18.8 million homes, or 14.4 percent of all houses and apartments, were vacant, according to the government survey. Without vacation homes, that rate would be 11 percent.

The number of vacant homes has soared over the past four years from about 16 million at the start of 2006. It has been hovering around 19 million since the end of 2008. There are around 131 million housing units nationwide, according to the Census Bureau.

About 2.5 percent of all primary residences were vacant and for sale and 10.3 percent of all year-round rental units were listed as vacant and for rent.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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