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Property vacancy rates are dropping — good news or bad news?

Trend is welcome news for sellers and landlords, but has drawbacks for buyers and renters, RealtyTrac says
  • According to a report by RealtyTrac, vacancies are down 9.3 percent from the previous third quarter analysis.
  • All of this may be good news for sellers and landlords, but it’s bad news for buyers and renters, said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president.
  • The low levels of open housing may be pushing market and rental prices upward.

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U.S. residential property vacancy rates are on the decline, but this trend may not live up to its appearances, as noted in RealtyTrac’s 2016 U.S. Residential Property Vacancy Analysis report for the first quarter. The report includes foreclosure status, owner-occupancy status and equity data for 85 million U.S. properties, which are compared to monthly vacancy data provided by the U.S. Postal Service. Only metropolitan statistical areas with at least 100,000 properties were included in the rankings. According to the report, as of the beginning of February, vacancies were down 9.3 percent from the last analysis in the third quarter of 2015. Only 1.3 million properties, or 1.6 percent of all properties, were vacant. Of those vacant homes, more than 76 percent of were investment properties, but investment property vacancy rates are also down at least 3 percent in more than a third of all markets. "Zombie" foreclosures fell 4 percent from a year ago, but seem to be increa...