by Calculated Risk on 1/30/2020 10:09:00 AM
Thursday, January 30, 2020
The Census Bureau released the Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q4 2019.
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. he 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.
"National vacancy rates in the fourth quarter 2019 were 6.4 percent for rental housing and 1.4 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 6.4 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2018 (6.6 percent), but 0.4 percentage points lower than the rate in the third quarter 2019 (6.8 percent). The homeowner vacancy rate of 1.4 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2018 (1.5 percent) and virtually unchanged from the rate in the third quarter 2019.Click on graph for larger image.
The homeownership rate of 65.1 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2018 (64.8 percent) nor from the rate in the third quarter 2019 (also 64.8 percent). "
The Red dots are the decennial Census homeownership rates for April 1st 1990, 2000 and 2010. The HVS homeownership rate increased to 65.1% in Q4, from 64.8% in Q3.
I'd put more weight on the decennial Census numbers. However, given changing demographics, the homeownership rate has bottomed.
The HVS homeowner vacancy was unchanged at 1.4%.
Once again - this probably shows the general trend, but I wouldn't rely on the absolute numbers.
The rental vacancy rate decreased to 6.4% 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 is close to the bottom for this cycle.