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Tight inventory? U.S. still has lots of vacant homes


WASHINGTON – Feb. 3, 2014 – In the fourth quarter of 2013, 2.1 percent of homeowner housing sat vacant, according to the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.2 percentage points higher than the rates in the fourth quarter 2012 and the rate in third quarter 2013.

In rental units, 8.2 percent was vacant, or 0.5 percentage points lower year-to-year and 0.1 percentage points quarter-to-quarter.

Overall, Florida’s vacancy rate hit 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter – an increase from 1.8 percent one year earlier. However, Florida’s vacancy rate rose significantly in the first quarter of 2013 when it hit 2.5 percent; after that, it settled at 2.4 percent for the next three quarters.

Four Florida cities are included in the Census Bureau’s breakdown of most populous cities, and they had a wide range of vacancy rates. Orlando saw the greatest increase in the number of vacant properties, while Jacksonville had a significant decline:

Orlando: 4.1% vacancy rate in 4Q 2013 compared to 1.5% in 4Q 2012
• South Florida:
1.8% vacancy rate in 4Q 2013; 1.6% in 4Q 2012
Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater: 1.7% vacancy rate in 4Q 2013; 1.9% in 4Q 2012
Jacksonville: 0.7% vacancy rate in 4Q 2013; 3.0% in 4Q 2012

The overall U.S. homeownership rate stood at 65.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, down 0.2 percentage points year-to-year. However, Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko says that number may be somewhat misleading.

“Young people finally moving out of their parents’ homes into their own rental units would cause the homeownership rate to fall, even though that would be a healthy sign,” Kolko says. “Unfortunately, neither today’s Census report nor other surveys give us a clear, definitive view on how quickly people are re-entering the housing market.”

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Related Topics: Trends