The Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (CPS/HVS) reported the U.S. homeownership rate at 65.5% in the last quarter of 2021. In contrast to some data reporting in 2020 and earlier 2021, the last quarter of 2021 data collection was not affected by the pandemic, as in-person interview returned in all areas. The national homeowner vacancy rate stayed at a record low of 0.9%, while the rental vacancy rate decreased to 5.6%.
The data collection restrictions have ended in all areas in the last quarter. However, technical issues involved with data collection changes limit useful comparisons of the data during the pandemic with the prior data series. We have especially noted the homeownership rate data for the last three quarters of 2020 with separated dots below to denote these technical changes. We encourage readers to consider these data points separately from the remaining data series. Nonetheless, the first three quarters of 2021 likely return the series to a more apples-to-apples comparison with the prior history of the series.
It is worthwhile to look at the homeownership rates among all age groups. The homeownership rates for households under 35 was 38.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021, and 61.4% for households led by 35-44 years old, 70.0% for 45-54 age groups, 75.3% for 55-64 age groups and 79.4% for households ages 65 years and over.
Total housing inventory was unaffected by the data collection changes during the COVID-19 pandemic period, when the estimates of homeownership rates, vacancy rates, and the components of housing inventory were affected. The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the count of total households increased to 127.4 million in the last quarter of 2021 from 125.8 million a year ago.
The CPS/HVS data collection of the last quarter of 2021 has returned to normal, as the pandemic-related restrictions have ended in all areas. However, it is still challenging to make comparisons between the fourth quarter of 2021 estimates to previously affected quarters.