The home ownership rate fell from 65.5 percent in the third quarter to 65.4 percent in the fourth, which matches the first-quarter rates in 2012 and 1997. It has remained higher in every quarter in between.
Home ownership peaked in the first quarter of 2005 at 69.1 percent.
The Census Bureau said 86.3 percent of housing units were occupied in the third quarter of 2012.
The home ownership rate is the percentage of households that are owner occupied.