The proportion of households in the U.S. that rent increased from 33% to 34% in the past year as the number of renter households increased by 1.4 million, according to the Housing Vacancy Survey for the second quarter of 2011, which was released on July 29.
The rental vacancy rate declined over a full percentage point to 9.2% from 10.6% the year before, while the for-sale vacancy rate was unchanged at 2.5%. The gross vacancy rate, which combines for-sale and for-rent vacant units with those held off the market and vacant for other reasons, was 14.3%. This was also relatively unchanged from the previous year and remained near the series high of 14.6% reached in the first quarter of 2009.
Despite showing significantly higher rental demand, the survey indicates that median asking rents declined in the past year.
The combination of growing rental demand and stubbornly high overall vacancy and declining rents suggest that the housing market was fundamentally weak and uncertain last quarter.
The Census Bureau press release describing the most recent data and a variety of detailed and historical tables and charts can be found at: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/hvs.html