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HVS: Q1 2022 Homeownership and Vacancy Rates

The Census Bureau released the Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report for Q1 2022.

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 first quarter 2022 were 5.8 percent for rental housing and 0.8 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate was 1.0 percentage points lower than the rate in the first quarter 2021 (6.8 percent) and not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2021 (5.6 percent).

The homeowner vacancy rate of 0.8 percent was 0.1 percentage points lower than the rate in the first quarter 2021 (0.9 percent) and not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2021 (0.9 percent).

The homeownership rate of 65.4 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the first quarter 2021 (65.6 percent) and not statistically different from the rate in the fourth quarter 2021 (65.5 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 decreased to 65.4% in Q1, from 65.5% in Q4.

The results starting in Q2 2020 were distorted by the pandemic.

The HVS homeowner vacancy decreased to 0.8% in Q1 from 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 increased to 5.8% in Q1 from 5.6% in Q4.  

The HVS also has a series on asking rents. This surged following the early stages of the pandemic – like other measures – and is up 20.5% over the last two years. However, asking rents were only up 2.3% year-over-year in Q1 2022.

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

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