Number of the Week: Vacant Homes and New Households


This does a nice job of laying out the inventory of surplus homes and the ability of the economy to sop them up with natural growth in the number of households.

4.6%: Percentage of U.S. homes that are vacant and for sale or rent.

The housing vacancy rate has eased some but remains a worry. In the third quarter there were 6.1 million empty homes for sale or rent, according to the Census Bureau, or 4.6% of all U.S. homes. To return it to the late-2000 level of 3.5%, about 1.5 million homes would need to be filled.

How fast might that happen? Census population projections suggest the U.S. will form about one million more households a year, while builders lately have been putting up about 600,000 new homes annually. Next, consider the 300,000 homes that will be demolished each year, according to Goldman Sachs economists. That suggests it would take about two years to sop up the excess.

A better economy could speed things up. One thing the slump did was prompt more kids to move back in with their parents and, in some cases, parents to move in with their kids. There are plenty of people who would jump at the chance to form a new household, if they only had the means.

Number of the Week: Vacant Homes and New Households
Justin Lahart
Sat, 05 Nov 2011 09:00:47 GMT

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