The homeownership rate appears to have stabilized at 67.4% after falling for three consecutive quarters and the number of vacant homes for sale has dropped by 14% since the start of this year, according to a government report.

The Census Bureau reported that the number of vacant homes on the market fell to 1.92 million in the second quarter, down from 2.23 million at yearend 2008. The homebuilders have been waiting for this inventory to drop back to its historical norm of 1.25 million to 1.5 million, because the overhang puts downward pressure on new home prices.

The Census Bureau also reported that the U.S. homeownership rate edged up to 67.4% in the second quarter from 67.3% in the first quarter. In the second quarter of 2008, the homeownership rate was 68.1%. Meanwhile, the homeownership rate for blacks was 46.5% in the second quarter, down from 47.8% a year ago, while the homeownership rate for Hispanics was 48.1%, down from 49.6% a year ago.

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