• http://www.bloomberg.com, By Prashant Gopal & John
The share of Americans who own their homes was 65 percent in the first quarter, down from 65.4 percent a year earlier and the lowest level since the third quarter of 1995, the Census Bureau reported today. The vacancy rate for rented homes dropped to 8.6 percent from 8.8 percent a year earlier, while vacancies for owner-occupied houses fell to 2.1 percent from 2.2 percent.
Investors are buying single-family homes and renting them out to capitalize on demand among families unable to qualify for a mortgage. Their purchases, many made with cash, are helping to support the housing recovery and pushing up prices. Home values in 20 cities increased 9.3 percent in February from a year earlier, the most since May 2006, according to the S&P/Case- Shiller (SPCS20Y%) index released today.
“Credit conditions are still tight and investors are taking advantage, in the interim, of favorable yields,” Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics in London, said in a telephone interview. “They’re making hay while the sun shines.”
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