Home Vacancy Improvement: Over 1 million More Housing Units Occupied in 2010

January 31st, 2011
in econ_news

Econintersect: We are surrounded by numbers - and most of them not significant.  The good news, before you are blinded by the math is that home occupancy increased faster then the population growth in 2010 - for the first time since 2006. (population growth 0.81%, occupancy growth 0.97%)

Follow up:

Mathematically the vacancy rate declined in 2010 over 2009.  There are over 130 million homes (housing units) in the USA - there were 656,000 units added in 2010, while 1,081,000 more were occupied YoY.

This is according to the US Census report RESIDENTIAL VACANCIES AND HOMEOWNERSHIP IN THE FOURTH QUARTER 2010.   The headlines in part:

National vacancy rates in the fourth quarter 2010 were 9.4 percent for rental housing and 2.7 percent for homeowner housing, the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau announced today. The rental vacancy rate of 9.4 percent was 1.3 percentage points lower than the rate recorded in the fourth quarter 2009 (+/-0.5 percentage points) and 0.9 percentage points lower than last quarter (+/-0.4). The homeowner vacancy rate of 2.7 percent was approximately the same as the fourth quarter 2009 rate (+/-0.2)* and 0.2 percentage points higher (+/-0.2) than the rate last quarter (2.5 percent).

The homeownership rate of 66.5 percent was 0.7 percentage points (+/-0.4%) lower than the fourth quarter 2009 rate (67.2 percent) and 0.4 percentage points (+/-0.4%) lower than the rate last quarter (66.9 percent).

Cutting to the chase - there was an obvious improvement with the  occupancy rate improving from 85.5% in 2009 to85.9% in 2010.  The year over year improvement was 0.4.

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  1. JGBell says :

    While this is "interesting", it is not all that informative.

    First, we did compare Jim@Calculated Risks posting of the exact same data, and his chart(s) with your one. That to in interesting, but his comments are far more so, being different.

    Second, the data is based upon "a survey" of all of U.S. That is inherently misleading. Vacancy rates in the sand states cannot be compared via a national survey. The data does not fit with reality. Nor does the dramatic worsening in the North-West in WA, OR, ID, UT, Col show in a survey.

    Third, we know that there were over 1 Million foreclosures this last year, and there will be over 1 Million again this year. That "shift" is NOT shown by a survey, or charts solely based upon one.

    Fourth, we know that there are Millions of bank foreclosed home being withheld from local listings. According to RealtyTrac this week now over 70% of over 1 million. And, there are 5 to 7 million troubled home loans. Possibly, mostly in the same sand states + Detroit & Atlanta.

    The post office now has identified "for U.S." - well, actually for direct mailers - how many REAL "vacant" homes there are. This number is being updated regularly. THAT number is far more accurate than ANY survey will ever be. You should look at that, and use it.

  2. admin (Member) Email says :

    JGBell -

    I agree with your overall premise that the numbers are inaccurate as there are methodology concerns.

    However, stepping back from the data - if a house is foreclosed - the people have to go somewhere. it should come as no surprise that rental property vacancy rates are falling if foreclosures are rising.

    Econintersect believes this data is correctly identifying the trends.

    I noted that Calculated Risk believes there are 1.35 million excess housing units - while Econintersect believes the number is closer to 10 million.

    there are over 18 million vacant properties according to this report:

    For rent - 3,969,000
    For sale only - 2,052,000
    Rented or Sold - 843,000
    Held off Market - 7,236,000
    For Occ’l Use - 2,376,000
    Temp occ by URE - 1,257,000
    Other - 3,602,000
    Seasonal - 4,294,000

    Econintersect believes the vast majority of the seasonal residences are owned by the baby boomers who significant numbers will be dumping shortly. the eye-popper is the 7 million or so homes vacant and held off the market.

    does this seem like there are 1.35 million excess homes?

    But the criticism I take from your comment is that Econintersect did not analyze the data enough - and I plead guilty.

    In our defense, this topic of homes is covered extensively - and this data was considered minor in the scheme of things. please take a look at our rich and current discussion on real estate by pasting this hyperlink into your browser:


    Steven Hansen

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