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HVS: Q4 2021 Homeownership and Vacancy Rates

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by Calculated Risk on 2/02/2022 10:14:00 AM

The Census Bureau released the Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q4 2021.

The results of this survey were significantly distorted by the pandemic in 2020.

This report is frequently mentioned by analysts and the media to track household formation, the homeownership rate, and the homeowner and rental vacancy rates. However, there are serious questions about the accuracy of this survey.

This survey might show the trend, but I wouldn’t rely on the absolute numbers. Analysts probably shouldn’t use the HVS to estimate the excess vacant supply or household formation, or rely on the homeownership rate, except as a guide to the trend.

National vacancy rates in the fourth quarter 2021 were 5.6 percent for rental housing and 0.9 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate was 0.9 percentage points lower than the rate in the fourth quarter 2020 (6.5 percent) and not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2021 (5.8 percent).

The homeowner vacancy rate of 0.9 percent was 0.1 percentage points lower than the rate in the fourth quarter 2020 (1.0 percent) and virtually the same as the rate in the third quarter 2021 (0.9 percent).

The homeownership rate of 65.5 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2020 (65.8 percent) and not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2021 (65.4 percent). “
emphasis added

Click on graph for larger image.

The Red dots are the decennial Census homeownership rates for April 1st, 1990, 2000 and 2010. The Census Bureau will release data for 2020 soon.

The HVS homeownership rate increased to 65.5% in Q3, from 65.4% in Q3.
The results starting in Q2 2020 were distorted by the pandemic.

The HVS homeowner vacancy was unchanged at 0.9% in Q4.

Once again – this probably shows the general trend, but I wouldn’t rely on the absolute numbers.

The rental vacancy rate decreased to 5.6% in Q4 from 5.8% in Q3. This fits with other data suggesting strong rental demand in Q4.

The quarterly HVS is the timeliest survey on households, but there are many questions about the accuracy of this survey.

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