Census estimates point to thousands of vacant apartments

For lease signs sprout in Portland. Jason E. Kaplan For lease signs sprout in Portland.

(Update appended): According to the American Community Survey there are appoximately 352,000 rental units in the Portland metro area.

The census Housing Vacancy survey estimates a 4.8% vacancy rate for the metro area during the second quarter of 2018. 

Combining these figures would imply roughly 16,000-17,000 vacant units, said Chris Salviati, housing economist for the rental site ApartmentList, in an email. 

The community survey rental stock estimates are based on 2016 data and do not take into acccount new apartment construction over the past year and a half.  Another disclaimer: The vacancy rate includes apartments that have been rented to a tenant who has yet to move in.

Industry players are floating slightly different vacancy rates, said Mark Barry, an appraiser with Portland-based Barry & AssociatesMultifamily NW pegs the Portland rate at 4.85%; CoStar, 4.6%. The rates vary depending on which units are counted and when the counting begins.



In a city grappling with affordable housing and homeless crises, the big question is whether vacancies, which everyone agrees are rising, will continue to exert downward pressure on rents. Portland rents have already fallen 2.2% in the past year.

A 2017 count found 4,177 homeless people in Multnomah County.


UPDATED, August 3: The headline of this article has been changed. The original headline, "16,000 rental units in Portland sitting empty,"  was misleading and did not reflect the content of the story. The story explains the 16,000 figure is a statistical estimate based on multiplying the number of units in the metro area by the estimated vacancy rate. The key point is that vacancies in the metro area are rising due to new construction*, and as a result prices are declining. 

*For more context on this story, see the Editor's note posted on August 1: 16,000 Vacant Apartments, Redux.


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16 comments

  • fsdfd
    fsdfd Tuesday, 31 July 2018 08:34 Comment Link

    Wow this is some shortage? We need to build more luxury housing units that no one from the 99% can afford. Maybe the stupid chinese will buy them

  • Dan Solitz
    Dan Solitz Tuesday, 31 July 2018 01:46 Comment Link

    Vacancy rate includes lag time to clean and repair.

  • Krupa
    Krupa Monday, 30 July 2018 23:16 Comment Link

    Even though I love being here, Portland is really a shit hole for housing. I don't understand why prises are so high? Because the city is not diverse ? Portland don't have infrastructure to be this expensive. The real estate guys play the game well knowing the market well.

  • SKon
    SKon Monday, 30 July 2018 18:28 Comment Link

    Thanks Geoff, that was good info.

  • Robert Bierma
    Robert Bierma Monday, 30 July 2018 16:54 Comment Link

    Awful Story headline. You just trying to be click bait?

  • Geoff Gunkler
    Geoff Gunkler Monday, 30 July 2018 16:40 Comment Link

    It should be included that the national vacancy rate fluctuates between 6.9 and 7.5%

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