Tuesday, April 28, 2020

HVS: Q1 2020 Homeownership and Vacancy Rates

by Calculated Risk on 4/28/2020 10:44:00 AM

The Census Bureau released the Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q1 2020. This is mostly pre-crisis.

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 first quarter 2020 were 6.6 percent for rental housing and 1.1 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 6.6 percent was 0.4 percentage points lower than the rate in the first quarter 2019 (7.0 percent), but not statistically different from the fourth quarter 2019 (6.4 percent). The homeowner vacancy rate of 1.1 percent was 0.3 percentage points lower than the rate in the first quarter 2019 (1.4 percent) and the rate in the fourth quarter 2019 (1.4 percent).

The homeownership rate of 65.3 percent was 1.1 percentage points higher than the rate in the first quarter 2019 (64.2 percent) but was not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2019 (65.1 percent)."
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 65.3% in Q1, from 65.1% in Q4.

I'd put more weight on the decennial Census numbers.

Homeowner Vacancy RateThe HVS homeowner vacancy declined to 1.1%.

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

Rental Vacancy RateThe rental vacancy rate increased to 6.6% in Q1.

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, the homeownership rate has bottomed - and that the rental vacancy rate is close to the bottom for this cycle.