Journal article

Housing market equilibrium (almost) without vacancies

The Swiss housing market is characterised by an extraordinarily low vacancy rate, generally in the vicinity of 1%. Is it permanently in a condition of severe shortage? This paper uses both a standard non-accelerating rent inflation rate of vacancy approach and a new perception-based approach to answer this question. The analysis confirms that a vacancy rate of 1% to 1.5% is indeed sufficient for the Swiss housing market to be in equilibrium, provided only dwellings that are not only unoccupied but also actually offered for rent or purchase are counted (which makes this rate not easily comparable across countries). The standard equilibrium vacancy rate approach suggests that even lower rates are sufficient in more densely built places whereas the approach based on perceptions makes no difference. This suggests that the dwellings listed by people who wish to move reduce the pressure on rents but not the feeling of housing shortage.


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