If you own any rental property then it is a good idea to keep an eye on the rental market in your area. One of the important indicators for rentals is the vacancy rate. A high vacancy rate can be a problem for landlords since that will generally mean there are more open rental units than prospective renters. If this persists then it can result in lowered rents as landlords compete for tenants. On the other hand a very low rental vacancy rate can be good for owners since it points to more demand than supply.
The U.S. Census Bureau tracks quarterly vacancy and home ownership rates.
They have data going back to 2005 for each quarter.
Here is a table with the data for the 75 largest metro areas during the third quarter of 2011:
|Metro Area||% vacant|
|Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY .||4.5|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA||9.4|
|Austin-Round Rock, TX||6.1|
|Baton Rouge, LA||7.9|
|Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, TX||11.9|
|El Paso, TX||3.3|
|Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI||5.9|
|Greensboro-High Point, NC||16.3|
|Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT||8.6|
|Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX||17.1|
|Kansas City, MO-KS.||15.2|
|Las Vegas-Paradise, NV||13.2|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA||5.0|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL||13.6|
|Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI||9.8|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||8.0|
|New Haven-Milford, CT||13.3|
|New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA||12.3|
|New York-Northern New Jersey--Long Island, NY||7.2|
|Oklahoma City, OK.||9.7|
|Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA||7.9|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||3.0|
|Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA .||13.7|
|Providence-New Bedford-Fall River RI-MA||8.8|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||9.7|
|St. Louis, MO-IL||10.5|
|Salt Lake City, UT||8.5|
|San Antonio, TX||6.5|
|San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos||8.5|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA||8.5|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||4.6|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||13.6|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA||9.7|
As you can see there is a pretty wide range in the vacancy rates. The median for the cities given is 8.7%. The high in the list is 17.1% in the Houston area and the low is 2.6% in Springfield, Mass.
This is current as of the third quarter of 2011. The vacancy rate for a metro area will go up and down from quarter to quarter.
Lets take a look at a single city over time. Below is the quarterly vacancy rate for Akron, Ohio going back to 2005.
The vacancy rate in Akron swings up and down a few percent points most quarters. It seems like there is something of an annual seasonal cycle with a peak in vacancy rates in the first quarter of the year.