Undesrstanding VAL=-1 (Home value) in PUMS ACS5 Microdata

Hello All,

I'm fairly new to the PUMS Microdata. I'm using the ACS5 2018 vintage. My question is about those with a null (-1) Home Sale Price value (variable VAL). 

I'm only dealing with household heads (SPORDER=1). I first filtered out all group quarters and then filtered out anything that was 1 for either Specified Rental Unit or Specified Owner Unit.

I'm left with 24,336 single-family homes without home values. What do others think, am I right in thinking that these are responses from owners that didn't have an estimate of their own home value? Thanks very much.

  • I assume that you mean variable VALP

    From the 2021 1 year PUMS codebook

    VALP Numeric Property value
    bbbbbbb .N/A (GQ/vacant units, except 'for-sale-only'
    .and 'sold, not occupied'/not owned or being bought)

    1..9999999 .$1 to $9999999 (Rounded and top-coded)

    You should also cross check:

    VACS Character 1
    Vacancy status
    b .N/A (GQ/occupied)
    1 .For rent
    2 .Rented, not occupied
    3 .For sale only
    4 .Sold, not occupied
    5 .For seasonal/recreational/occasional use
    6 .For migrant workers
    7 .Other vacant

    Both VACS and VALP are housing level variables and SPORDER is not in the housing level dataset.

    You must be using a software package or downloading data from somewhere other than the Census FTP site or directly via the API. What software are you using ?

    The codebook indicates if the household is occupied there is a property value.  I assume that if the householder doesn't know a value for the property then the person who follows up to get answers to blank questions on the ACS form will determine the assessed value by, for example, contacting the taxing authority or some other means.  You might contact ACSO support group to verify my answer to this question.


    Also if you use the FTP PUMS csv files there will be a blank field ",," in the file.  For the API, which cannot handle blank values, -1 will be used.


  • Thank you, Dave. I am using the API via R (tidycensus).

    As it turns out, the TEN value helped me to resolve the question. Once group quarters were thrown out, I was left only with renters and properties rented without payment.