Vacancy rate for homes hits a record

From Times Wire Services

The percentage of homes that are vacant and for sale in the U.S. set a record in the first quarter, the government said.

A Census Bureau report showed that 2.9% of U.S. homes -- excluding rental properties -- were vacant and for sale, compared with 2.8% in the fourth quarter of 2007. It was the highest quarterly number in records going back to 1956.

The West had the biggest gain in vacancy rates, rising to 3.2% in the quarter from 2.6% a year earlier.