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Real estate’s January report card

Guest perspective: Vacancy glut will prolong housing recovery

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A glut of 800,000 excess vacant homes will prolong the housing recovery for approximately one year, as the recent surge in resale listings and completed new homes offered for sale includes a record level of unoccupied homes. The surge is both the result of investor activity earlier this decade as well as the result of new-home sales cancellations. Approximately 2.1 million of the homes offered for sale today are vacant, compared with the average over the last 10 years of 1.3 million. We expect more vacant homes to be put up for sale in 2007 because all categories of vacancy have risen significantly in the last few years. With only 6-7 million new and resale homes expected to be sold this year, we believe it will take about one year for the excess vacancy to return to normal. In certain tertiary markets, the excess supply will probably linger for years. Our grading system of the economy and the housing market is a "bell curve" model, with statistics at an all-time high receiving an...