The number of privately owned, vacated homes fell in the first quarter. The Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau reports that the national homeowner vacancy rate was 2.6 during the first three months of 2011, down from 2.7 percent in the previous quarter and approximately the same as a year ago. The vacancy rate hit a high of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The homeownership rate was 66.4 percent, down 0.1 percent from last quarter and 0.7 percent below the first quarter of 2010. Despite the dip in the homeownership rate, a recent Pew survey showed 81 percent of Americans still feel buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make, down just 3.0 percent from 1991. More here and here.