Rental Vacancies Decline Along with Homeownership Rate


As anticipated, the vacancy rate for rental units
dropped again in the second quarter of 2011 according to the Residential
Vacancies and Homeownership Report
from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The data is derived from the Housing Vacancy
Survey, a supplement to the Current Population Survey.

The vacancy rate for rental units was 9.2 percent while
for homeowner housing it was 2.5 percent. 
Rental vacancies were down 1.4 percentage points from the rate in the
second quarter of 2010 and 0.5 percentage points lower than in the first
quarter of 2011.  Homeowner vacancies
were essentially unchanged from both earlier dates.

homeowner vacancy rate is the proportion of the inventory which is vacant and
for sale while the rental vacancy rate is the proportion of the rental
inventory which is vacant and for rent.  A housing unit is vacant if no one is living in it at the
time of the interview, unless its occupants are only temporarily absent. In
addition, a vacant unit may be one which is entirely occupied by persons who
have a usual residence elsewhere (URE).

Quick Recap….

(All numbers are in thousands)

Despite the lessening of vacancies
in the rental market, rents for vacant units have actually declined in the last
year from just over $700 to a current median rent of $684.  The median asking sales price for vacant sale
units was $138,400.  This is essentially
unchanged from one year earlier although there was a slight and shirt-lived
bump during the intervening months.

The national homeownership rate is 65.9 percent, 1.0
percentage points lower than one year earlier and 0.5 points lower than the
first quarter.  Homeownership rates were
also down in every region. In the Northeast the rate is 63.0 compared to 64.2
percent a year earlier; the Midwest dropped from 70.8 percent to 70.0 percent;
the South was at 68.2 percent compared to 69.1 and the South 60.3 against 61.4.

The homeownership vacancy rate in principal cities
was 2.9 percent compared to 2.4 percent in the suburbs and 2.3 percent outside
of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). 
These numbers are not statistically different than those in the second quarter
of 2010.  The rental vacancy rate in
principal cities was 9.6 percent compared to 10.6 in Q2 2010 and in suburbs 8.6
percent compared to 10.2 percent.  In
areas outside of MSAs the rate was 9.1 percent, statistically unchanged from

Homeownership rates declined among all age groups
except those over 65 years; that rate increased from 80.4 in 2010 to 80.8.  Those under 35 years of age now have a rate
of 37.5 percent compared to 39 percent a year ago.  In the 35 to 44 cohort the rate went from
65.6 to 63.8; for those 45 to 54 is declined to 72.3 percent from 73.6; and among
the 55 to 64 age group it dropped from 78.7 to 77.8. 

The Black community accounted for most of the recent
attrition in homeownership.  The rate
among Blacks, already the lowest of any ethnic group, has dropped 4 full
percentage points in the last year to 44.2 percent.  The rate in the Hispanic community is down
from 47.8 to 46.6 percent and among whites 74.4 to 73.7 percent.  Homeownership in the “all other races”
category actually rose from 55.7 percent to 56.0 percent.

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