Report: Grand Rapids has below-average homeowner vacancy

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Courtesy Sable Homes

Grand Rapids has a below-average homeowner vacancy rate, according to a recent study.

A report from Porch looking at homeowner vacancy rates across the U.S. found 74.3% of households in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area are owner-occupied. In Q4 2020, Grand Rapids reported a homeowner vacancy rate of 0.9%, the 30th highest vacancy rate in the country.

Comparatively, the Albany, New York, metropolitan area had the highest homeowner vacancy at 4.9%. In that area, 73.1% of households are owner-occupied. At the bottom of the list was Syracuse, New York, with a vacancy rate of less than .05% and a homeownership rate of 65.3%.

Since reaching a record high of 2.9% during the 2008-09 recession, the homeowner vacancy rate in the U.S. has trended downward. After diving to 0.9% last spring in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the homeowner vacancy rate has inched back upward.

The report also found the severity of the housing shortage varies widely by location, due to factors like affordability and local job market conditions.

Overall, the western U.S. has lower homeowner vacancy rates, indicating a lower stock of available homes, compared to the eastern half of the country. Louisiana and North Dakota have the highest homeowner vacancy rates in the U.S., at 2% and 1.9%, respectively. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Oregon and Utah, both with homeowner vacancy rates of 0.2%, have the lowest share of vacant homes in the country.

Summary of Grand Rapids data compared to national average

  • Homeowner vacancy rate Q4 2020: 0.9% (1% nationally)
  • Total housing units authorized in 2020 (per 10K residents): 22 (44 nationally)
  • Median home price: $326,550 ($346,162 nationally)
  • Homeownership rate: 74.3% (65.8% nationally)

Methodology

Researchers at Porch analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey and Building Permits Survey, as well as home price data from Realtor.com.

The researchers ranked metro areas according to homeowner vacancy rates in the fourth quarter of 2020. In the event of a tie, rates from previous quarters were used. Researchers also calculated the total housing units authorized in 2020, the median home price and the homeownership rate.

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