Homeownership rates continued to fall during the first quarter of 2015 while vacancy rates were stable in the short term. The Census Bureau said today that the homeownership rate was 63.7 percent during the quarter, 1.1 points below the rate one year earlier and 0.3 percentage point lower than in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The homeownership rate in the U.S. peaked in the second and fourth quarters of 2004 when it hit 69.2 percent but has fallen steadily since then. The current rate is lower than at any time in the data provided by the Census Bureau, dating back to the first quarter of 1995.
The homeownership rate in the first quarter was highest in the Midwest at 68.6 percent and lowest in the West at 58.5 percent. The Northeast and South were at 61.1 percent and 65.1 percent respectively.
Rates fell on a year-over-year basis for all age groups but homeownership remained more than twice as high for the oldest age group than the youngest. Seventy-nine percent of those over age 65 own homes compared to only 34.6 percent of those under 35. The rate for the oldest group was down 0.9 point from a year earlier while the rate for so-called Millennials decreased by 1.6 percentage point.
The vacancy rate for rental units in the first quarter was 7.1 percent, down from 8.3 percent one year earlier and 0.1 percent higher than in the previous quarter. Homeowner vacancies were at 1.9 percent, unchanged from the previous quarter and down 0.1 percent year-over-year.
There were an estimated 133.58 million residential properties in the U.S. in the first quarter, 87.0 percent of which were occupied. Of those 55.4 percent were occupied by owners and 31.6 percent by renters. Of the vacant 17.3 million properties, 3.3 million were for rent and 1.41 million were for sale. Most of the remaining vacant units were seasonal (4.5 million) or held off of the market for a variety of reasons (7.2 million).
The median asking price for vacant rental units continued to rise and is now $799 per month, up about $150 from pre-recession levels. The median asking price for a vacant for sale unit in the first quarter of 2015 was $149,500, compared to the pre-recession median of $200,000.
Senior Director, Coldwell Banker New Homes Division
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