Today's Q1 residential vacancies and homeownership report may be most interesting in its data on rentals, where the vacancy rate fell to 8.8% from 9.4%, the lowest since Q4 2001. This does appear to be reflected in rising rents, with yr/yr growth in the median asking rent for vacant units up to 5.6%, the highest since Q1 2009. While this series can be volatile, they have followed vacancies with a lag since the onset of recession.
Even the homeowner vacancy rate is falling, to 2.2% from 2.3%, a series that peaked at 2.9% in both Q1 and Q4 of 2008. The median sales price is still falling, in this series by a sharp 7.0% yr/yr, though with the decline in Q1 from Q4 being only 0.1% (not annualised) a bottoming may be close. As we have noted elsewhere, the cheapness of homeownership relative to rents (search the extreme cheapness of US housing) and falling rental vacancies (search US apartment market tight) should help support home buying and construction going forward. DS