The rate of homeownership as well as the national vacancy rates were statistically unchanged in the first quarter of this year, and prices, especially for rentals, have responded as might be expected.

The Bureau said the vacancy rates among rental units was unchanged for the third consecutive first quarter at 7.0 percent. Until they stabilized in 2016, rental vacancies had drifted down steadily after reaching more than 10 percent in 2010. The homeowner vacancy rate was a tight 1.5 percent, down from 1.7 percent in the previous 1st quarter.

There were an estimated 136.3 million residential units in the U.S. at the end of the first quarter, an annual increase of 910,000.  Occupied units represented 87.5 percent of the total.  Of the 118.9 million units that were occupied, 75 million or 56.1 percent were owner occupied and 43.3 million or 31.4 percent were rented.  The number of vacant units that were for rent dropped by 23,000 year-over-year, and those for sale declined 132,000.

The median asking rent for vacant units in the first quarter of 2018 was $954,000 and the asking price for vacant units that were for sale was $196,700. The for-sale asking price is back to 2007 (pre-recession) levels while median rents have surged about $250 above their previous peak in 2008.



The rate of homeownership was unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2017, but it did improve slightly year-over-year.  The U.S. Census Bureau said the rate in each of the last two quarters was 64.2 percent, but that was 0.6 percentage point higher than in the first quarter of last year.  The rate hit an all-time low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016.

The rate was highest in the Midwest at 67.9 percent and the South at 66.3 percent.  The Northeast and the West had rates of 60.5 percent and 59.7 percent respectively. Rates for each of the regions were up slightly from a year earlier except for a slight dip in the Northeast.  The West posted the greatest gain, rising 0.7 point.

The rate of homeownership, as usual, increased with age. The rate for those under age 35 was 35.3 percent, representing 1 percent growth over the previous 12 months.  More of those aged 35 to 44 became homeowners as well, up from 59.0 to 59.8 percent.  The rate was greatest among those over age 65 at 78.5 percent.

The rates were highest among non-Hispanic white households at 72.4 percent, up 0.6 percent on an annual basis, but fell further among Black households, dropping a half-point to 42.2 percent.  The greatest gains were made by Hispanic households, which can be of any race. Their rate rose from 46.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017 to 48.4 percent.