A U.S. Census Bureau report on fourth-quarter vacancy and homeownership rates shows vacancies among non-rental housing at levels last seen in 2006. The national vacancy rate for single-family homes dropped to 2.3 percent during the fourth-quarter of 2011, down from 2.7 percent the year before. Declining vacancies suggest inventory is beginning to clear, which should have a positive effect on home prices. The drop is due, in part, to rising home sales and fewer foreclosures. Also, the Census Bureau reports that the homeownership rate fell 0.3 percent from the third quarter to 66.0 percent. More here and here.

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