From the Census Bureau:
National vacancy rates in the fourth quarter 2007 were 9.6 (+ 0.4) percent for rental housing and 2.8 (+ 0.1) percent for homeowner housing, the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau announced today. The Census Bureau said the rental vacancy rate was not statistically different from the fourth quarter rate last year, or the rate last quarter (9.8 percent each). For homeowner vacancies, the current rate was not statistically different from the fourth quarter 2006 rate or the rate last quarter (2.7 percent each). The homeownership rate at 67.8 (+ 0.5) percent for the current quarter was lower than the fourth quarter 2006 rate (68.9 percent) and also lower than the rate last quarter (68.2 percent).
It’s not like you couldn’t have predicted this, but the home ownership rate in the U.S. fell in the fourth quarter of 2007 to its lowest level since the beginning of 2002–this from a record high in the middle of 2004.
President Bush, as I recall, touted that record rate in his mantra of an “ownership society.” Oh well. I’m guessing the current gang of Presidential wannabes will jump all over this one.
But what really gets me in this report released today from the U.S. Census is the little-reported homeowner vacancy rate. It’s up at 2.8 percent, which is a full percentage point above where it was 2 years ago. There are currently close to 18 million vacant homes stretched across this country, a full million more than just a year ago. The bulk of the increase, of course, is in foreclosed homes.
Think about it–more and more empty houses in neighborhoods across America, as the home ownership rate continues to fall. Where’s the “American Dream” hiding in all that?