Okay, it's not really secret. You can find it here, but the almost complete absence of media coverage might have led people to believe that the report was secret.
Anyhow, the numbers are striking. The report showed a decline in the rental vacancy rate from 8.8 percent to 8.6 percent. The vacancy rate for ownership units fell from 2.2 percent to 2.1 percent. While the quarterly drop by itself is not that impressive, it follows a sharp drop reported for the prior quarter. This suggests that the first quarter data was not a fluke, but rather indicative of a clear trend towards lower vacancy rates.
Comparing these numbers to prior years, the rental vacancy rate was 9.2 percent in the second quarter last year and 10.6 percent in the second quarter of 2010. This is the lowest number on the rental side since the early years of the bubble in 2001.
The vacancy rate on ownership units is down from 2.5 percent a year ago and a peak of 2.9 reached in 2008. It is important to remember that units change status all the time between rental and ownership, so the most important factor here is the general decline in the vacancy rate.
It is amazing that reporters ignore these data. The soaring vacancy rate in the years when house prices were rising rapidly was one of the ways to recognize that they were being driven by a speculative bubble. If supply is exceeding demand, then prices should not be rising. Unfortunately, most reporters and people in policy-making positions could not be bothered to look at these data back then. Apparently this is still the case.
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