Two bloggers have a disagreement about how many vacant homes there are in the United States. Check out the debate and the comments below.
The moral of the story: one still needs to interpret statistics and what exactly they are measuring. The different between 11% and 2% is quite a lot: the first figure suggests 1 out of 10 housing units are vacant while the second figure suggests it is 1 out of 50. If you look at Table 1 of this Census Bureau release regarding housing figures from Quarter 4, it looks like the vacancy rate is 2.7%. But there may be confusion based on Table 3 which suggests the vacancy for all housing units is roughly 11% for year-round units. And later in the release, page 11 of the document, gives the formula for the vacancy calculation and an explanation: “The homeowner vacancy rate is the proportion of the homeowner inventory that is vacant for sale.”
There are some other figures of note in this document. Table 4 shows that the homeownership rate is at 66.5%, down from a peak of 69.2% in the fourth quarter of 2004. (It is interesting to note that this rate peaked a couple of years before the housing market is popularly thought to have gone downhill. What happened between Q4 2004 and the start of the larger economic crisis? Table 7 has homeownership rates by race: the white rate has dropped 1.1% since 1Q 2007 while Blacks and Latinos have seen bigger drops (3.2% and 3.3%).