On Monday April 27th, both the U.S. Census Bureau and RealFacts.com released first quarter rental statistics, with some discrepancy, but both indicating a prolonged decrease in demand for rental housing. The Census Bureau provides a national and historical perspective compared to homeownership, while RealFacts’ survey is focused at the MSA level.
The Census Bureau reports that the national rental housing vacancy rate has held steady at 10.1 percent from Q1 2008, with no statistically significant variances throughout 2008. On the chart below, you can see the lowest vacancy rate was from the first Quarter in 1997 and the highest in the first Quarter of 2004.
Some more granular statistic from the Census Bureau include the following facts; national vacancy rates inside principal cities increased from Q4 2008 and were higher than the national average at 10.6 percent, whereas the suburban rate decreased and was below the national average at 9.5 percent.
Geographically, the highest vacancy rates were in the South, at 12.9 percent and lowest in the Northeast at 6.9 percent. The Census has added some nice new graphs which detail geographic vacancy rates since 1968.
From RealFacts.com, we see a more downward overall trends, but at from city level. Three quarters of MSAs showed an occupancy decline of more than 1 percent, compared to Q4 2008, when only 30 percent experienced that kind of reduction in occupancy.