UPDATE 1-US homeowner vacancy rate edges down in 1st qtr

(Adds analyst comment)

WASHINGTON, April 26 (BestGrowthStock) – The percentage of U.S.
homes standing vacant fell slightly in the first quarter, the
government reported on Monday, though vacancies remained at
elevated levels amid continued weakness in the housing sector.

The first-quarter homeowner vacancy rate fell to 2.6
percent from 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, the
Commerce Department reported. The homeowner vacancy rate in the
same period a year ago was 2.7 percent rate.

An elevated vacancy rate is a sign that many homeowners
moved out of their primary residence before it was sold.

The South had the highest vacancy rate, at 2.8 percent,
followed by 2.7 percent in the West. The rate for the Midwest
was 2.6 percent, while the Northeast recorded the lowest rate,
at 1.8 percent, the department said.

In the rental market, the percentage of empty units fell to
10.6 percent in the first quarter from 10.7 percent in the
final three months of last year. That’s up from 10.1 percent in
the first quarter of 2009.

Nicholas Tenev, an analyst with Barclays Capital in New
York, called the latest figures an encouraging sign that slack
in the housing market is lessening and downward pressure on
rental prices may be starting to wane.

“While vacancy rates are likely to remain elevated for some
time, both homeowner and rental vacancy rates seem to have
peaked,” Tenev said.

Stock Market Research

(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Leslie Adler)

UPDATE 1-US homeowner vacancy rate edges down in 1st qtr