The most recent Housing Vacancy Survey, released by the U.S. Census for the first quarter of 2008, shows that the vacancy rate for ownership units has risen to 2.9%, the highest since these data have been kept. Before the current downturn, the vacancy rate had never exceeded 2%. As a further indication of the impact of the foreclosure crisis and slow down in sales, the number of year-round units recorded as vacant but neither for sale nor for rent stood at 7.5 million, 250,000 more than a year before; the number of seasonally vacant units increased by a similar amount in this period.
The rental vacancy rate stood at unchanged at 10.1%, but survey also found that in the past year the number of renters increased by nearly 1 million, compared to an increase of just 139,000 homeowners. This increase in renters was more than the increase in rental demand experienced in the previous few years combined. As a direct result, the homeownership rate continued to decline over the past year, falling significantly from 68.4% to 67.8%.
The current and past Housing Vacancy Surveys can be found at: www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/hvs.html.