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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Q3 2010: Homeownership Rate at 1999 Levels

by Calculated Risk on 11/02/2010 10:00:00 AM

The Census Bureau reported the homeownership and vacancy rates for Q3 2010 this morning.

Homeownership Rate Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The homeownership rate was at 66.9%, the same level as in Q2. This is at about the level of early 1999.

Note: graph starts at 60% to better show the change.

The homeownership rate increased in the '90s and early '00s because of changes in demographics and "innovations" in mortgage lending. The increase due to demographics (older population) will probably stick, so I've been expecting the rate to decline to around 66%, and probably not all the way back to 64% to 65%. I'll revisit this soon - and the impact on the homebuilders.

Homeowner Vacancy RateThe homeowner vacancy rate was at 2.5% in Q3 2010. This is the same level as in Q2, and below the of 2.9% in 2008.

A normal rate for recent years appears to be about 1.7%.

This leaves the homeowner vacancy rate about 0.8% above normal. This data is not perfect, but based on the approximately 75 million homeowner occupied homes, we can estimate that there are close to 600 thousand excess vacant homes.

The rental vacancy rate declined to 10.3% in Q3 2010 from 10.6% in Q2.

Rental Vacancy RateThis decline fits with the Reis apartment vacancy data and the NMHC apartment survey. This report is nationwide and includes homes for rent.

It's hard to define a "normal" rental vacancy rate based on the historical series, but we can probably expect the rate to trend back towards 8%. According to the Census Bureau there are close to 41 million rental units in the U.S. If the rental vacancy rate declined from 10.3% to 8%, then 2.3% X 41 million units or about 950 thousand excess units would have to be absorbed.

This suggests there are still about 1.55 million excess housing units. These excess units will keep pressure on housing starts, rents and house prices for some time.

NOTE: The graphs in this post link to a new Gallery graphics tool (Thanks Ken!). This CR Gallery is a collection of current graphs from the blog. There are tabs for several categories: Employment, New home Sales, etc.

Click on a tab, and a gallery is loaded. Then thumbnails appear below the main graph for all of the graphs in the selected gallery. Click on the thumbnails to view each graph. The title below each large image is a link to the related blog post on Calculated Risk (or click on the main image to view the blog post).

The "print" key displays the full size image of the selected graph for printing from your browser. Enjoy!