Why this is important
A sufficient stock of housing, including rental options, is important for mobility and attracting residents to the jobs and opportunities in the County. Some vacancy is normal in order to accommodate turnover between units and fluctuations in the market. A high vacancy rate can mean that more renters are moving into home ownership or are taking on roommates instead of renting alone. A low vacancy rate causes higher rental rates, and can signal an insufficient stock of housing and can make it difficult for renters to find housing. The nationwide measure for a healthy vacancy rate is 5%.
What the data show
The annual Dakota County Rental Market Survey, conducted by the Community Development Agency (CDA) in 2014, covered 19,948 out of approximately 28,000 rental units in the County. The survey showed that the overall vacancy rate decreased between 2013 (2.3%) and 2014 (1.9%), the lowest rate in more than a decade. According to the CDA, in 2014, four cities in Dakota County had a vacancy rate below 2%: Apple Valley, Eagan, Hastings and Rosemount.
Dakota County’s low vacancy rate mirrors trends at the national and metropolitan-wide levels. Reis, an industry leader in rental market research, reported a decline in the national vacancy rate to 4.5% at the end of 2012. The Twin Cities rental market was reported to have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the nation.
The peak in the vacancy rates in 2004 reflects a time when mortgage interest rates were very low and when lending standards and products, and the healthy job market, allowed a large segment of the population to purchase rather than rent housing.