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More U.S. homes sitting vacant

New census report shows that 2.7% of homes normally occupied by owners are vacant, and the rate of homeownership continues to fall.

By Teresa Mears Feb 2, 2011 5:39PM

More U.S. homes are sitting empty and waiting for sale, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau, and the rate of homeownership is continuing to drop.

In the last quarter of 2010, 2.7% of U.S. homes normally occupied by owners were vacant, up from 2.5% the previous quarter. The vacancy rate hit a record high of 2.9% in the first and fourth quarters of 2008. A "normal rate" is about 1.7%, Bill McBride at Calculated Risk Finance & Economics wrote. He has charts showing historical trends, indicating that the vacancy rate has hovered between 2.5% and 2.7% the last two years.


Kathleen M. Howley of Bloomberg Businessweek explained the significance of the numbers:

Measuring empty residences is a gauge of housing supply that includes the so-called shadow inventory of properties not listed with real estate agents, such as bank-owned homes being held off the market. Lenders seized a record number of homes in September, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, California-based data firm. Banks may sell directly to buyers, list the homes with real estate agents or decide to keep properties until they determine it's the right time to put them on the market.

The homeownership vacancy rate doesn't include homes for rent, seasonal residences or homes that are vacant all the time. Post continues after video.

You can read the Census Bureau's latest Housing Vacancies and Home Ownership report here.


The Census Bureau reported that the rate of homeownership fell to 66.5%, down from 66.9% the previous quarter and down from a record 69.2% in 2004. The current rate of homeownership is about what it was in 1998, McBride reported at Calculated Risk.


The vacancy rate for rental housing was 9.4%, down from 10.3% the quarter before.


McBride drew this conclusion from the report:

This suggests there are still about 1.35 million excess housing units. This number has been steadily declining over the last few quarters, but there is still a long way to go.

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The only reason I was able to retire after losing my job in Oct 2008 was because I never got sucked into a 30 year mortgage. Don't drink that Kool-Aid. Home ownership is at 66.5% because the housing market isn't free. Help End Exclusionary Zoning by signing my petition here at "". You'll have to put http:// in front of what's in quotes. I had to do it this way because my post would be blocked because it has a hyperlink.


Mar 25, 2011 8:53PM
The Banks need to start lending again. This is a spot for the Gov to get involved as getting people into their own homes helps the overall economy.
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