Vacancy rates are statistics kept on vacancies in rental properties, homes for sale, and hotels. High vacancy rates are usually viewed as a sign that the market is struggling, while low rates are desirable, because they indicate that property is a hot commodity and that vacancies rarely remain unfilled for very long. Statistics on vacancy rates are kept by many government agencies and companies which specialize in economic analysis, and they can be useful to consider when people are relocating to a community.
In the sense of housing, a vacancy rate counts up the total number of livable but unoccupied units, and determines what percentage of the total available housing is vacant. Vacancy rates include homes, apartments, and other living arrangements. The lower the vacancy rate, the more challenging it is for people to find housing, because units they are interested in may not come up for rent or sale very often.
High vacancy rates in housing usually suggest economic depression. They can occur when lots of people move out of a community, leaving large numbers of homes vacant, and when developers overestimate the market for housing in a community. High rents can also drive up the vacancy rate, as people may not be able to afford to rent, instead making other arrangements. Hotel vacancy rates can be even stronger indicators, as lots of vacancies mean that less money is coming into the community.
Individual statistics are often kept for different types of housing, distinguishing between apartments, townhouses, single family dwellings, and so forth. Landlords usually need to keep up with the latest information, as fluctuations can influence the amount of rent they can charge. Landlords may also struggle with an unusually high vacancy rate for their own properties, often paired with high turnover, in which tenants are constantly coming and going.
Commercial vacancy rates are also an important economic indicator, and they are usually calculated separately than residential rates. These rates can include empty retail businesses as well as other commercial buildings such as warehouses and factories. Low rates are desirable, especially because people are less prone to spending money in business districts with high vacancy rates. Psychologically, a row of empty storefronts can have a very chilling effect on consumers, even if the economy is actually robust.
People who are interested in getting statistics on vacancy rates in a specific community can try consulting census data and local government offices. Realtors are also fond of keeping statistics on vacancies, as are websites which provide demographic data about various communities.