Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Empty Homes

The Census Bureau announced its quarterly housing data yesterday. The homeowner vacancy rate moved to 2.9% in the first quarter of 2008, the highest reading since 1956 when records started.

Worse yet, as the number of housing units in the country increased by 2.1 million units from a year ago, vacancies also rose by a huge 1 million units, affected by rising foreclosures. For comparison, here is a chart with prior years' increases in housing units and vacancies.

Putting it into dollars, at least $200 billion in housing capital became idle in just one year. This amount likely understates reality because it reflects national median prices, whereas vacancies are higher in the West and South where houses are more expensive. For example, the homeowner vacancy rate is 2% in the Northeast, but 3.2% in the West.


  1. Not to worry. There'll be a 2nd half housing recovery. I know because I hear it on TV all the time.

  2. I think America might be entering a rerun of The Grapes of Wrath (minus the mobility and the untapped frontiers) and next winter we will be seeing middle income families taking in boarders to help pay the tax and utility bills on their homes. There have been so many articles about adult children (even middle-aged ones) being forced back home and last Friday in USAToday there was an article about a utility in Minnesota & Wisconsin with 19% of its customers facing disconnect notices for non-payment of their electric bills.

    If anywhere near that number get disconnected it's the beginning of the end of the grid as fewer rate payers must shoulder the fixed costs and more of them can't pay the now much higher fees and so they get disconnected until it becomes cheaper to have your own generator and everyone disconnects from the grid. This is exactly the scenario that Matt Savinar has been predicting for the past 4 or 5 years at:


  3. The head cheer-leader to allay fears about the economy today:

    (President Bush aimed Tuesday to address mounting anxieties about U.S. economic problems as energy prices soar and more Americans lose their homes in foreclosures.)

    Back to my ill stated argument about people following the example of a leader in an organization. Does anyone else think there is an unusual amount of deceit and propaganda spewed at all levels of media and business today?

  4. we just bought a generator yoyomo...and yes I agree with you marcus about the propoganda in the media but I believe a big part of those "mistruths" comes from ignorance. Statistics can be easily tweaked believe it or not, and if you choose to report on the tweaked version rather than the factual correct data consumers can be misled.
    What is rediculous is that the media/government/Bush give so little credit to the public. How 'bout just state the truth, let everyone figure out how best to take care of their families, and work on a REAL solution without the red tape & piles of policies.
    Survival of the fittest can't happen without all the facts.

  5. I can tell you from the front lines it's tumble weed city in the residential mortgage business....and there is no end in sight.

    I yelled through my office the other day and I heard at least three echoes...

  6. I grew up in San Diego. Lots of family, in-laws, friends still there. Used to get into high-spirited debates about the rise in property values. But not anymore. (I'm sure many on this blog have felt the Curse of Cassandra).

    19%!!! Next winter......

    He blamed everything on Congress in his address today (go figure). And I agree the news has gotten extra seedy. Didn't Rove set up some system where he e-mails "talking points" everyday to the right-wing broadcasters? The Daily Show often shows montages of 5-6 different news personalties using the exact same phrases as each other.

  7. Marcus,
    It is impossible for me to believe that all of this is nothing more than garden variety greed or incompetence. There has been a well orchestrated campaign since the early 70's to concentrate power in the hands of the cognoscenti by any means necessary. The godfather of this movement was Leo Strauss who exhorted his followers to use obfuscation, deceit or intimidation to accomplish their goals.

    The consolidation of the media in fewer and fewer hands has progressed steadily since the 80's and if not stopped by public opposition will continue. The media now is totally under the control of corporate, neoconservative and banking interests and will push any lie to further its master's benefit.

    You might want to check out the movie Zietgiest, it's of a conspiratorial bent and maybe not everything in it is accurate but the broad outlines are exactly what is going on in this country. It's available on the web, just google it.

    One example is that of movie maker Aaron Russo who got to know one of the Rockefellers who in a moment of drunken mirth tipped Russo off about 9/11 & the war on terror months before it happened.

    Google "Aaron Russo & Nick Rockefeller" and see what comes up. BTW Russo is now dead of cancer but their are chemicals that will induce cancer if you're willing to wait a few months for your problem to be solved.

  8. Dink,
    It was in USAToday, not exactly some leftwing rag. Xcel Energy is the utility and the article is titled:

    "Unpaid Utility Bills Soar As Economy Sags"

  9. There is one thing I do not understant. When someone walks away from his home (either sends the keys in or gets foreclosed), how come that increase the number of vacant homes by one? They have to go on living somewhere, I assume. Or are they going to share home/condos/houses with relatives?

  10. Don't forget, Hell -

    A good part of the reason so much housing "capital" is empty is because banks are not letting their REO go for any offer... they're also waiting for the greater fool.

    Buddy put in an offer on a condo in Chicago (listed at 215, he offered 160 and then 175) and was rejected. The owner? Wachovia. He offered 160 an hour after they wrote down $2B.

  11. Unsympathetic,

    Being a denizen of the Windy City, I wonder what Wachovia is/was on the hook for on that property. Were they trying to recover the entire amount of the mortgage balance? Maybe pick up a couple of extra bucks?....Just curious..


  12. Are you looking for Wholesale Specials every week? Did you know? wholesalechina wholesaleHohotrade brand is known for its bestMP3 playerprice & quality ratio available in the entire wholesale industry.MP4 playermp4 watchesGive us Hohotrade.com a notice if you need to purchase your wholesale special products by the case.psp accessoriesWe have the best deals around.wedding dresseswedding dressAsk about our upcoming Holiday Specials.wholesale digital cameraswholesale clothingthis section is for our expanded wholesale area. wholesale shoeswholesale t shirtsWe select the all the category wholesale specialwholesale furnitureMemory Cardproducts really nice cause you won't be disappointed!Memory Stickwholesale atvChoose the wholesale specials products from a variety of styles,wholesale jewelrywholesale handbagsbrand labels and size.Wholesaling is the sale of products or merchandise to retailers,Men's outerwearWomen's outerwearto industrial, commercial, institutional,Mens outerwearskin care productsor other professional business users,wholesale mp3wholesale mobile phonesor to other wholesalers and related subordinated services.Hohotrade is one leading worldwide wholesaler in this field.digital camera wholesaleThousands of quality merchandises and big brandwholesale electronicsbluetooth headsetname products are available here at wholesale price.consumer electronicsStart your wholesale sourcing here from today to wholesale silver jewelrygps devicesexperience best service and fast shipping.