Census Bureau: 18% of Fla. homes vacant

In real estate on April 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm

WASHINGTON – March 22, 2011 – The U.S. Census Bureau released its Florida report on Thursday, and it included the number of vacant housing units in the state: 18 percent, or 1.6 million.

As a result, a number of media reports have focused on the large number of vacancies, considering it a reflection of homes for sale, and an indication of the time it would take for the real estate market to fully recover. However, many homes the Census Bureau considers vacant are empty by choice – homes in which snowbirds live only a few months out of the year, for example, or homes under construction but not yet inhabitable.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the definition of “vacant” means “no one is living in it at the time of the interview, unless its occupants are only temporarily absent” or “entirely occupied by persons who have a usual residence elsewhere.” The latter would include snowbirds or other part-time Florida residents

In addition, “New units not yet occupied are classified as vacant housing units if construction has reached a point where all exterior windows and doors are installed and final usable floors are in place.” Many media reports have not included or explained the Census definition for “vacant” homes, resulting in a misleading impression of Florida’s housing market.

Still, Florida’s vacancy rate surpassed other states. Arizona’s vacancy rate was 16 percent, while Nevada’s was 14 percent. California had 8 percent vacancies.

In Florida, Collier County registered a 32 percent vacancy rate, according to the Census Bureau, though Southwest Florida has a high number of snowbirds that would register as vacant. Lee County’s vacancy rate was 30 percent, while Miami-Dade registered 12 percent.

Reprinted by permission: © 2011 Florida Realtors®

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