Long Beach/Los Angeles Metropolitan Area Homeowner Vacancy Rate

Some markets, such as Florida, have been hit harder than others in the current market. Each quarter the U.S. Census Bureau publishes renter and homeowner vacancy rates; the 2007 4th quarter rate for homeowner vacancy of 2.8% is the highest since it began collecting this information in the 1960's (see comment at end). But the 4th quarter is also typically the slowest time for the housing market in general--fewer home sales, fewer people moving due to the holidays, or taking a listed home off the market temporarily for the holiday period.

Not all markets are the same: the Long Beach-Los Angeles-Santa Ana corridor rate was 1.6%, much lower than Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, Orlando, or Indianapolis, for example, yet we rarely hear about those markets in the news media, but rather how difficult the California market is due to the number of foreclosures, which are not the only reason a home may be vacant. A home may also be vacant due being not yet sold and the owner has moved on, or a home being converted to a rental, or has second-home or seasonal use, which is a growing factor among the baby-boomer generation. The West as a region showed a higher number of seasonal vacancies in the 2007 4th quarter than in 2006, while the overall year-round vacancy rate in the West remained the same for both periods. See the Census Bureau chart. The WSJ Online comment that vacancy rates are "matching" the highest level since the Census Bureau started collecting this information is misleading--since the Census Bureau in its own comment says that areas are redefined every 10 years, and states which sets of years are not comparable to each other, i.e., 2005 and later data is not comparable to data prior to 1986 (see bottom of chart page).

Also from: The Wall Street Journal Online, March 21, 2008

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