If you are an active real estate investor, then you most likely are aware of the new information that is being released by the US Census Bureau. Their 2010 Census Website is chock full of useful data regarding population growth and movement trends. But there are some other key data that is also highly important for those of us who want to know what’s going on in our local housing markets.
One of the interesting bits of information that I look for when a new Census report is released is the percentage of homes that currently (at the time the census was conducted) stand vacant. I’m not exactly sure how they were able to get this (did they count a home as vacant if nobody answered the door? :)) but it provides for an interesting comparison for different counties in a State.
Take Florida for example. I live in Leon County, Florida, and this is the worst housing market that I have experienced (by far) during my 21 years brokering real estate. The following graph was created from data found on the 2010 US Census Website and it shows some troubling figures.
Leon County was the fifth best county (out of 67) in the State, and our vacancy rate was at 10.6%. Unfortunately, the worst county in the State was right here in my region. Franklin County recorded 51% vacancy. Other local counties were nearer the center of all counties reported.
What would you do if you lived in a county that had 1 in every 2 homes vacant? 15% of Florida counties have 1 in 3 homes vacant, while overall the State’s vacancy rate is 17.5%. So why is any of this important to a real estate investor?
The fact is that much of the news about real estate has to be gleaned from regional and national market reports. Were I to just read Florida real estate reports, my understanding of vacancy rates would be grossly out of line, because Tallahassee’s rates are far better than the State average.
The same is true for much of what is reported about real estate. The old adage that “real estate is local,” is true for most of what a real estate investor needs to know, so make sure you gain as much local market knowledge as you can if you want to profit in real estate investing.