Wednesday, November 02, 2011

HVS: Q3 Homeownership and Vacancy Rates

by Bill McBride on 11/02/2011 10:31:00 AM

The Census Bureau released the Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q3 this morning.

As Tom Lawler has been discussing (see posts at bottom), this is from a fairly small sample, and the homeownership and vacancy rates are higher than estimated in other reports (like Census 2010). This report is commonly used by analysts to estimate the excess vacant supply for housing, but it doesn't appear to be useful for that purpose.

It might show the trend, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.

Homeownership Rate Click on graph for larger image.

The Red dots are the decennial Census homeownership rates for April 1st 1990, 2000 and 2010. The HVS homeownership rate increased to 66.3%, up from to 65.9% in Q2 2011.

I'd put more weight on the decennial Census numbers and that suggests the actual homeownership rate is probably in the 64% to 65% range.

Homeowner Vacancy RateThe Census researchers are investigating differences in Census 2010, ACS 2010, and HVS 2010 vacant housing unit estimates, and plan to report the results of this research at the 2012 Federal Committee on Statistical Methodological Research Conference this coming January: “Evaluation of Gross Vacancy Rates from the Decennial Census Versus Current Surveys.”

The HVS homeowner vacancy rate declined to 2.4% from 2.5% in Q2.

The homeowner vacancy rate has probably peaked and is slowly declining. However - once again - this probably shows that the trend is down, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.

Rental Vacancy RateThe rental vacancy rate increased to 9.8% from 9.2% in Q2.

I think the Reis quarterly survey (large apartment owners only in selected cities) is a much better measure of the overall trend in the rental vacancy rate - and that survey has been showing the trend is down.

Here are some previous posts about some of the HVS issues by economist Tom Lawler:
Lawler to Census on Housing Data: "Splainin" Needed Not Just on Vacancy Rate
Census Bureau on Homeownership Rate: We've got “Some 'Splainin' to Do”
Be careful with the Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report
Lawler: Census 2010 and the US Homeownership Rate
Lawler: Census 2010 Demographic Profile: Highlights, Excess Housing Supply Estimate, and Comparison to HVS
Lawler: The “Excess Supply of Housing” War
Lawler: Census Releases Demographic Profile of 12 States and DC: Confirms Bias of HVS
Lawler: Census 2010 and Excess Vacant Housing Units
Lawler: On Census Housing Stock/Household Data
Lawler: Housing Vacancy Survey appears to massively overstate number of vacant housing units
Lawler: US Households: Why Researchers / Analysts are “Confused”

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