The U.S National homeowner housing vacancy rate slipped to 2.8% in the second quarter, a 0.1% decline from the previous quarter's 2.9% rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report released on Thursday.

National vacancy rates for rental housing rates dipped slightly to 10.0% from 10.1% in the first quarter of 2008. The rental vacancy rate was higher than the second quarter rate last year, coming in at 9.5%.

The homeownership rate of 68.1% for the current quarter was lower than the Q1 2007 rate of 68.2% and lower than the previous quarter 67.8% result.

For rental housing by area, the second quarter 2008 vacancy rates rate in suburbs fell to 9.3% from the previous quarter 9.7%. The rental rate inside principal cities held up at 10.4%, up from the previous quarter 10.3% result. The rate for outside Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's) came in at 10.6%, a modest drop from the previous quarter's 10.7% figure.

The homeowner vacancy rate in principal cities came in at 3.5% this quarter, higher than the suburbs 2.6% rate and greater than the outside MSA's 2.2% rate.

Regionally, the rental vacancy rates for the second quarter were highest in the South at 13.2%. The Midwest vacancy rate came in second at 10.6% while the lowest vacancy rates were in the Northeast at 7.3% and the West at 6.9%.

By Steve Stecyk and edited by Cristina Markham