Economic downturn leads to near record apartment vacancies

The vacancy rate for U.S. apartments in the second quarter has reached 7.5 percent -- the highest level since 1987, increasing 1.4 percentage points from a year ago, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc. The all-time record for vacancies was 7.8 percent in 1986. Victor Calanog, Reis's director of research told Reuters, "We are reaching that historic high very quickly." Moreover, Reuters writes that "the apartment buildings sector has led all commercial real estate categories on loan defaults."

Is this good news or bad news? Let's take a look at both sides of the coin here, starting with the good news. Bear with me here, but maybe -- just maybe -- the number of vacancies has increased because of the housing situation. What if apartment tenants are realizing that home prices are at record lows, creating an excellent opportunity for people looking to snap up a home at a low price? It is entirely possible that savvy renters are looking to get out from their apartment agreements and are looking to strike out on their own.