The U.S. Census Bureau has just released a report examining homeownership rates and vacancy levels in both rental housing and owner-occupied housing. Nationwide, the rental housing vacancy rate for the fourth quarter of 2012 was 8.7 percent (versus 9.4 percent for Q4 2011), while the homeowner housing vacancy level was a miniscule 1.9 percent in Q4 2012 (compared to 2.3 percent in Q4 2011). The extremely low homeowner housing vacancy rate portends continued home value appreciation in most markets and explains price rises in the past year.
The report details the U.S. by state and the 75 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).
Rental housing is not as tight a market in most areas as homeowner housing, although some areas have extremely little vacant space. The Bridgeport Connecticut MSA has the lowest rental housing vacancy level in the top 75 markets, posting a minimal 2.2 percent followed closely by the San Jose MSA at 2.8 percent. Dayton, Ohio has almost one out of five rental units empty at 18.8 percent.
Homeowner housing is much tighter than rental housing, with five MSAs posting a zero percent vacancy rate: Syracuse, New York, Dayton Ohio, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the Albany, New York MSA. And the MSA with the greatest percentage of empty homeowner housing units? Greensboro-High Point, South Carolina.
Is there a positive correlation between the rental and homeowner housing vacancy rates? One would expect that, but the answer is no. The Pearson Product Correlation Coefficient can range from -1 to 1. If the markets with the least rental housing vacancy rates also had the lowest homeowner housing vacancy rates, then the correlation coefficient would be toward the high side. In this case, however, the correlation coefficient is an almost inert 0.2024.
To see the listing of all the 75 MSAs click here and open Tables 4 and 5.
To review the entire report click here and be certain to read the press release on how the vacancy rates are calculated.