The rate of homeownership in the country dropped slightly from 67.8% in 1Q 2008 to 67.3% in 1Q 2009. The most recent peak in homeownership, which unsurprisingly coincided with the real estate boom and the pro-homeownership policies of the last administration, was in 2005 at 69.1%. Nationally, rental vacancies were largely unchanged, however the Southern and Western regions of the country both showed an increase of rental vacancies – 0.2% and 1.6% increases respectively.

first tuesday take: California leads in this trend of declining homeownership as the approximate 1,100,000 of the households that purchased their own homes in California during the past decade go through the foreclosure process and return to being tenants or residents of other states. Many will get together and consolidate their arrangements for shelter into one housing unit instead of occupying two or three units before. Around 350,000 during the past three years have been foreclosed on and the other 750,000 are yet to lose their homes during 2009-2013.

While the nation returns to the stable 64% of homeownership which existed for the 20 years preceding 2000, California will see a more dramatic decrease in homeownership than the 5% that will drop nationally, since we had an accelerated rate of home sales over the past 10 years. All this is going to keep vacancies from increasing more than they otherwise would – good news for those investors buying real estate owned single family residences and holding them as income properties.

Re: Census Bureau Reports on Residential Vacancies and Homeownership” from U.S. Census Bureau News