Homeownership rate 2000-2014

We've included the rate for all metropolitan statistical areas for some context. The national rate peaked around 2004 (for the period since 1968) and has been declining ever since.


Rental vacancy rate 2000-2014


Again, the national rate for metro areas is included for comparison. The national rental vacancy rate peaked (for the period since 1968) during the most recent recession, and has been falling steeply ever since.

Homeownership vs. rental occupancy 2000-2014

The homeownership rate and the rental vacancy rate don't necessarily have to be a trade off. For example: A bunch of new -- and not yet rented -- rental units could shift the rental vacancy rate without necessarily shifting the homeownership rate. But, to some degree, it's probably not a stretch to say that supplies of houses for sale and rental units are somewhat responsive to the demand for them in the market, and there substitutes for each other.

So in this graph we've flipped the rental vacancy rate into a rental occupancy rate in order to compare it to the homeownership rate here in the Albany area. And just looking at this casually, it appears the two rates do move somewhat in concert with each other (rental occupancy up as homeownership declines, and vice versa).


By the way: As one of the tables below indicates, Albany's rental vacancy rate is among the lowest in the country for the 75 biggest metros. That would indicate there's strong demand for rentals relative to the supply available.

75 largest metros homeownership rate

The Albany metro ranks 21 of 75 for highest homeownership rate.

75 largest metros rental vacancy rate

The Albany metro ranks 67 of 75 for highest rental vacancy rate. (Another way to say that would be that it ranks 9th for lowest rental vacancy rate.)

Leaning toward renting

door open welcome mat

Home sweet (rented?) home. / photo: Flickr user Joelk75 (CC BY 2.0)

Last week we wrote about one of the residential conversions in progress in downtown Albany. As is so often the case, a prominent thread in the comments was the rental price. And then chris capped things off with this comment:

Hey, when people start buying houses again this place will be half-empty and they'll have to drop the rent. Have patience...

We were thinking about how chris framed the situation -- essentially, people are leaning away from buying houses right now and toward renting -- and wondering if we could get a better sense of the situation.

Are there numbers on that? Of course. Did we look them up? Of course. Are we now going to share some of the numbers with you, with graphs? Of course.


This post is basically a handful of graphs -- they're above in large format, click or scroll all the way up.

What sorts of numbers are these?

The US Census Bureau recently published 2014 data for homeownership rates and rental vacancy rates for the whole country, regions, states, and the 75 largest metro areas (that includes the Albany metro area). It also makes data available going back many years. We've picked out the data since 2000 (things get a little squishy the farther you go back you end up comparing things that aren't exactly the same).

Also, it's worth nothing that these are estimates. In the case of the 2014 numbers for the Albany metro area, the +/- for the homeownership rate is 4.3, and for the rental vacancy rate it's 2.6.


In this context, these things mean...

Albany metro area: the counties of Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, and Schoharie.

Homeownership rate: total number of households that own their home / total number of occupied households

Rental vacancy rate: vacant units / rented and occupied units + units that are rented awaiting occupancy + vacant units


It was my understanding that there would be no math.

it might be anecdotal but I have heard that many "upscale" (ie rent comparable to what could be a mortgage in this area) apartment buildings are at full capacity (I last heard the Harmony Mills building was at 96% capacity). Even that wretched Alexander building that looks over parking lots and highway seems to have low vacancy (it also offers parking and allows pets).

In my many years of casual research behind the chair I have chatted with wide variety of the transient population around here. Med students, grad students, contract workers, medical residents, etc. and there seems to be a never ending supply of renters looking for decent rentals.

While I hope to remain a permanent resident of Albany, I often wonder if I would buy a condo someday in the future. It's possible, but I like a lot of the perks of renting, like having someone else take care of all the maintenance and problems. If so, it would have to be a condo, as I would never want to deal with a yard.

"Hey, when people start buying houses again this place will be half-empty and they'll have to drop the rent. Have patience..."

Nope. Been renting here for 25 years. No matter how high home ownership is and no matter how many more apartment buildings they build, the rent just keeps going up and up.

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