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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HVS: Q4 2017 Homeownership and Vacancy Rates

by Calculated Risk on 1/30/2018 10:53:00 AM

The Census Bureau released the Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q4 2017.

This report is frequently mentioned by analysts and the media to track household formation, the homeownership rate, and the homeowner and rental vacancy rates.  However, there are serious questions about the accuracy of this survey.

This survey might show the trend, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.  The Census Bureau is investigating the differences between the HVS, ACS and decennial Census, and analysts probably shouldn't use the HVS to estimate the excess vacant supply or household formation, or rely on the homeownership rate, except as a guide to the trend.

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 64.2% in Q4, from 63.9% in Q3.

I'd put more weight on the decennial Census numbers - and given changing demographics, the homeownership rate has probably bottomed.

Homeowner Vacancy RateThe HVS homeowner vacancy was unchanged at 1.6% in Q4. 

Once again - this probably shows the general trend, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.

Rental Vacancy RateThe rental vacancy rate decreased to 6.9% in Q4.

The quarterly HVS is the most timely survey on households, but there are many questions about the accuracy of this survey.

Overall this suggests that vacancies have declined significantly, and my guess is the homeownership rate has bottomed - and that the rental vacancy rate has bottomed for this cycle.