Jann Swanson, Mortgage News Daily, Jul 27 2012, link
Vacancy rates in both rental and homeowner properties declined in the second quarter of 2011 the U.S. Census Bureau said on Friday. Vacancy rates for rental houses declined 2 basis points from 8.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012 to 8.6 percent in the second quarter. One year earlier the rate was 9.2 percent. Homeowner vacancies declined slightly, from 2.2 percent in the first quarter to 2.1 percent. This rate was 2.5 percent one year earlier.
The rate of homeownership increased slightly – from 65.4 percent to 65.5 percent from the first to the second quarter but was 4 basis points lower than a year earlier. While the homeownership rate has blipped up slightly in a few quarters the general trend has been down since the most recent peak of 69.0 percent in the third quarter of 2006.
Vacancies in rental units have decreased substantially since the worse of the recession. The rate rose above 10 percent in the first quarter of 2007, peaked at 11.1 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and has fallen steadily since then. Homeowner vacancies were at a high point of 2.8-2.9 percent through all of 2008 but have eased down in most subsequent quarters.
Rental vacancies were highest in the South at 11.0 percent, down from 11.4 percent one year earlier. The Midwest rate was 9.1 percent compared to 10.3 percent in the second quarter of 2011 while the Northeast and the West were at 6.7 percent and 6.2 percent, both dropping from 6.8 percent in the previous period. Homeowner vacancies were down on an annual basis in all regions, most notably the Northeast and the South which each declined 6 basis points. With the exception of the Northeast at 1.7 percent, regions had vacancy rates of either 2.1 or 2.2 percent.
Despite the tightening market, the median asking price for renting a housing unit dipped slightly in the second quarter but had climbed steadily through 2011. The median asking is now in the $710 per month range. The asking price for vacant for sale units ticked up very slightly in the most recent period after sliding down gradually through the past year. It is now in the $130,000 range.
The Census Bureau estimates there are 132.7 million housing units in the U.S. of which 114.2 are occupied, about two thirds by owner occupants. The number of housing units increased by 486,000 between the second quarters of 2011 and 2012 while occupied units increased by 809,000. Of the 18.5 million vacant properties 14 million are classified as year-round and of those 3.8 million are for rent, 1.6 million are for sale, and 7.6 million are being held off the market for various reasons.
While homeownership rates increased slightly on a national basis they declined in two of the four regions. The South was down from 67.5 percent to 67.4 percent while the West declined two basis points to 59.7 percent. The Northeast saw an annual increase from 62.5 percent to 63.7 percent while homeownership in the Midwest increased by one basis point to 63.7 percent.
Homeownership increased among three of the five age cohorts. The 65 year and older group increased to 81.6 percent from 80.9 percent and the 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 groups were up to 62.2 percent and 71.4 percent respectively. Homeownership among the youngest group, those under 35, fell to 36.5 percent from 36.8 percent and among the 55 to 64 age group it was down to 77.1 percent from 77.8 percent.
While still way below rates in the white community, minority homeownership rose appreciably from the first quarter of 2011 while remaining unchanged among those who identified as non-Hispanic White at 73.5 percent. The rate for those who identified as Black had an increase in homeownership from 43.1 percent to 43.8 percent and among Hispanics it rose from 46.3 to 46.5. The rate was down one basis point among those who identified themselves as of another race to 55.0 percent from 55.1 percent.
Homeownership rates remain highly disparate by income. With an overall homeownership rate of 65.5 percent in the second quarter the rate for households with family income at or above the median family income had a rate of 80.5 percent while the rate for households with income below the median was at 50.6 percent. Both rates increased two basis points from Quarter One to Quarter Two.