Housing Vacancy Improving

The housing market is improving, according to vacancy figures released today by the government. Forget "bank-owned" and what Realtors call "inventory." The best way to look at the housing market is to see how many housing units are empty.

Housing VacancyThe "owned" category (most single family homes and condos) has been close to normal for some time, though there's certainly room for a couple more tenths of a percent decline.

The rental category took a big drop, which is positive for the housing industry, even if negative for home-hunters.

Both categories are important, as there is some mixing of people between the two categories.

Keep in mind that these are national averages; some local markets look very different. In addition, an excess supply of housing in Michigan does little to help fast-growing Sunbelt states.

Looking forward, I expect fairly good growth. In fact, we could have 20 percent stronger housing construction without overbuilding.