National vacancy rates for rental units in the first quarter increased from a year earlier, while homeowner vacancies remained virtually the same, the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau announced today.

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National vacancy rates for rental units in the first quarter increased from a year earlier, while homeowner vacancies remained virtually the same, the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau announced today.

 

Rental housing vacancy rates were 10.4 percent in the first quarter, up from first-quarter 2003’s rate of 9.4 percent, and slightly higher than the fourth quarter’s 10.2 percent rate.

 

Homeowner housing vacancy rates were at 1.7 percent in the first quarter, unchanged from the same quarter a year ago, and slightly lower than the fourth-quarter rate of 1.8 percent.

 

For rental housing, the suburbs (9.7 percent) had the lowest vacancy rate, while rates outside metropolitan areas (11 percent) and in central cities (10.8 percent) were not different from each other. The rental vacancy rate in central cities was higher than last year’s rate, while current rates in the suburbs and outside metro areas were not different from their previous corresponding rates.

 

Similarly, the homeowner vacancy rate was also lowest in the suburbs (1.4 percent) while rates outside metro areas (1.9 percent) and in central cities (2.1 percent) were not different from each other. The homeowner vacancy rate in central cities was higher than the rate for first quarter 2003, while rates for outside metro areas and in the suburbs were not different from their respective rates a year ago.

 

Among regions, the rate for rental vacancies was higher in the South, 12.7 percent, than in the Northeast, 7.9 percent, or the West, 7.6 percent, (although the latter two were not different from each other) and was not different from the Midwest, 12.3 percent. In the Northeast and Midwest, the respective rates were higher than a year ago, while those in the South and West were statistically unchanged during the period.

 

The regional homeowner vacancy rates were lowest in the Northeast (0.9 percent) and West (1.3 percent). The Midwest (2.1 percent) and the South (2 percent) were not different from each other.

 

When compared to first quarter 2003, the current homeowner vacancy rates were /higher in the Midwest, lower in the West and not statistically changed in the Northeast and South.

 

There were an estimated 121.6 million housing units in the United States in the first quarter 2004.

 

Approximately 106 million housing units were occupied: 73 million by owners and 33 million by renters. The number of owner-occupied units increased and the number of renter-occupied units decreased from their first quarter 2003 estimates, respectively. Of the 15.8 million vacant housing units, 12.1 million were for year-round use. Approximately 3.9 million of the year-round vacant units were for rent, 1.3 million were for sale only, and the remaining 6.9 million units were vacant for a variety of other reasons.

 

The home ownership rate (68.6 percent) for the current quarter was higher than the first quarter 2003 rate (68 percent); however, it was not different from the rate last quarter (68.6 percent).

 

During the first quarter 2004, the home ownership rate by region was highest in the Midwest (73.5 percent), while the South (70.3 percent) ranked second, the Northeast (65.1 percent) was third and the West (63.7 percent) had the lowest rate. The Northeast and West increased from a year ago, while the other regions did not change during the same period.

 

For first quarter 2004, the home ownership rates by age of householder ranged from 42.3 percent for those under 35 years of age to 81.7 percent for those aged 55 to 64. The home ownership rate increased for those aged 35 to 44 (68.8 percent) from the first quarter 2003, while the rates for other age categories did not change from a year ago.

 

The first quarter 2004 home ownership rates, when tabulated by race and ethnicity, remained close to their corresponding rates a year ago. The home ownership rates for non-Hispanic White (single race) householders held at 75.5 percent in the first quarter, while the rates for those who indicated they were Black (and no other race) slipped slightly to 49.3 percent. The home ownership rate for Hispanic or Latino householders, who can be of any race, was 47.3 percent, which is not different from the rate last year. The home ownership rates for householders who were of any other races increased to 58.2 percent in the first quarter.

 

For first quarter 2004, the home ownership rate for households with family incomes greater than or equal to the median family income (83.8 percent) was higher than the rate reported last year. But for those with incomes less than the median (51.5 percent) there was no difference from a year ago.

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