Housing Update – dynamite to blast us out of our lethargy?

Summary:  Housing statistics are often misrepresented.  Much of the analysis comes from industry shills, and the data during this downturn challenges the long-standing American love of real estate.  Today the Census provides a powerful follow-up to Cutting through the fog to clearly understand the housing crisis.

Today’s bleak news from the Census Department: a stunning and record-high 19 million housing units are vacant (18,943 thousand, 14.4% of all units)!   Most articles about this report only the total “vacant for sale or rent” (one-third of the total vacant), ignoring the important “held off-market” category.

Vacancies are up year-over-year (YoY)  in every category except seasonal homes and vacancies due to recent sale/rental.  The Census shows YoY comparisons to avoid seasonal effects (the data is not seasonally adjusted).

Some fraction — perhaps a large fraction — of this national wealth (capital) eventually will be destroyed.  Vandalized, burned, or deliberately plowed under municipal governments.

A sad ending for an obvious and widely predicted crisis, but inevitable for a nation that allows it’s key public and private institutions to be easily hijacked by special interests for their personal benefit.  That’s true of our wars as much as our housing-lending-WallStreetGambling crises.  Our descendents will ponder with horror the record of a great nation pouring its wealth down the toilet.

Perhaps these events will sharpen our wits and end our lethargy.   Let’s hope so.  The clock is running.

Other posts about the housing crisis

  1. Diagnosing the eagle, chapter I — the housing bust, 6 December 2007
  2. “Idiots Fiddle While Rome Burns” – comforting and facile rhetoric, 24 July 2008
  3. A must-read for every American citizen: “The Fannie Mae Gang”, 25 July 2008
  4. A vital but widely misunderstood aspect of our financial crisis, 18 September 2008 — Too many homes.
  5. Knocking down houses in order to save the village, 20 October 2008
  6. Destroying houses in order to boost home prices, 16 December 2008
  7. The housing crisis allows America to look in the mirror. What do we see?, 9 March 2009
  8. Another step to solving the housing crisis: downsize cities by destroying neighborhoods, 2 April 2009
  9. Sparks of justice still live in America – cherish them and perhaps they’ll spread, 11 September 2009 — About foreclosures.
  10. Has the US financial system been nationalized?, 28 October 2009
  11. Who should we blame for the mortgage crisis?, 16 January 2010
  12. Cutting through the fog to clearly understand the housing crisis, 8 July 2010

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