|Perhaps the most under-reported release of economic data is the quarterly data on housing vacancy rates from the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau just released the data for fourth quarter of 2006. This showed the vacancy rate for owner occupied housing hitting 2.7 percent. This is up 50 percent from the 1.8 percent rate of two years ago.|
This is big news. The vacancy rate for ownership units has hovered near 1.5 percent for 50 years. It had never previously crossed 2.0 percent. The most recent Census Department estimates means that there are more than 2 million ownership units sitting vacant. In most cases, this means that an owner is paying a mortgage on a home for which they are collecting no rent. Few homeowners can afford to pay a mortgage on a house in which they don’t live for very long.
This record vacancy rate is likely to mean considerably more downward pressure on house sale prices in the months ahead. It will likely mean downward pressure on rents as well, as some vacant units will eventually be put up for rent.
Plus, new home sales are also plunging. And California is leading the way