April 21, 2007
Empty houses and condos at record levels
The number that got all the attention this week was 2.7 percent. That's the percentage of homes that are sitting empty across the United States. And it's certainly noteworthy, because in the four decades since the Census Bureau began tracking that number, it's never gone higher than 2 percent.
Put another way, there are 2.1 million empty homes out there, and the people who own them are taking a vicious beating.
But the really nasty number almost got lost in the shuffle. It's 11 percent. That's the number of buildings with five or more units (read: condominiums) that were unoccupied during the fourth quarter.
These and other numbers are being bandied about this week at the National Association of Home Builders' International Business Show. If you recall, this is the same show at which economists last year announced what developers were already figuring out - that the speculators feeding the condo boom had packed up and gone home.