What this means:
* Rents will stay low
* Prices will keep falling
* realtors will keep lying
* Drastic government intervention into the free market is on the way
What will we do with all these empty homes? How can we as a nation have been so incredibly stupid? And what will become of vacant-home foreclosure ghost towns like Maricopa Arizona? Time to send in the bulldozers?
Home Vacancies Set Record
The share of homes vacant and for sale, an important measure of the nation's housing supply, set a record in the first quarter in a signal that the glut of homes on the market isn't improving.
The homeowner vacancy rate, which measures the number of vacant homes for sale, rose to a record 2.9% in the first quarter from 2.8% in the fourth quarter, about one percentage point higher than normal, according to new Census Bureau data. The vacancy rate has jumped nationwide and in cities, suburbs and rural areas since the housing bubble popped. From 1995 until the fourth quarter of 2005, the rate held between 1.5% and 2%.
About 2.2 million vacant homes were for sale in the first quarter, up from 2.1 million in the fourth quarter and about one million more than was typical before the housing bubble burst.
Economists say the rising vacancies indicate that home prices won't stop falling and home builders can't ramp up construction until the glut of vacancies can be worked down.
"It's the worst piece of housing news that we've heard in the past couple of months," said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at Global Insight. "It means home prices will continue to drop at least for the remainder of the year."
Meanwhile, a record 4.1 million vacant homes are for rent, with the rental vacancy rate rising to 10.1% in the first quarter.