It’s no secret that the U.S. housing market has seen better days. From falling home values and impaired labor mobility, to backed-up inventories and a flood of foreclosures, there are countless ways that real estate affects the economy at large.
One of the unfortunate results of a bad housing market is an increase in vacant homes, which has grown by 43.8 percent since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.Homes can be vacant for a number of reasons, but are defined as both rental inventory that are unoccupied and “for rent,” as well as homes that are unoccupied and up for sale. As of the 2010 Census, there were approximately 15 million vacant housing units in the country, with an 11.4 percent gross vacancy rate nationwide.
Much like the range of diversity in home values from city to city, homeowner and rental vacancy rates vary dramatically depending on where you live. Every quarter, the Census publishes dataon homeowner and rental vacancies in the 75 largest U.S. cities that reveal which metro areas have the highest number of empty homes. The cities listed here are ranked by CNBC.com according to equal-weighted rankings in both rental and homeowner vacancies, which reveal the most significant outliers in both categories relative to other major U.S. cities.
So, what are the emptiest major U.S. cities? Click ahead to find out!
By Paul Toscano
Posted 11 October 2011
Rental vacancy rate: 11%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.7%
Although the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area has seen rental vacancy rates drop significantly — from 17.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 — homeowner vacancies have gone up by nearly 30 percent over the same time. Interestingly, homeowner vacancies were higher in Kansas City prior to the housing crisis, hitting 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2007.
Rental vacancy rate: 17.4%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 2.3%
Houston is home to the country’s second-highest rate of rental vacancies at a staggering 17.4 percent. The rate has been relatively high in the past three years, however, and has fluctuated between 18.6 percent and 13.1 percent over that time. Homeowner vacancies in the city have fared much better, currently below 2010 levels and down from the first quarter of 2011.
Rental vacancy rate: 17.2%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 2.4%
Detroit has been one of the hardest-hit cities of the recession, and remains in a poor position, with an unemployment rate at 12.9 percent. Detroit also has a 17.2 percent rental vacancy rate, the third highest in the country, but the homeowner vacancy rate is down by nearly half from 2008.
Rental vacancy rate: 10.7%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 4.7%
The homeowner vacancy rate in Dayton, Ohio, is the highest it’s been since the first quarter of 2009, when it stood at 5.6 percent. Although homeowner vacancies are at a high, rental vacancies have been down dramatically, falling from an all-time high of 26.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
Rental vacancy rate: 13%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.9%
Although Baton Rouge, La., doesn’t have some of the most extreme vacancy rates in the country, the proportion of the city’s empty homes are relatively high for both rentals and owned homes. With rental vacancies at 13 percent, Baton Rouge is the 12th emptiest city in that category, while its 3.9 percent homeowner vacancy rate ranks it 11th among major cities.
Rental vacancy rate: 11.8%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 5.4%
Atlanta’s homeowner vacancy rate is the fourth highest among other major U.S. cities, standing at 5.4 percent. The rate has been rising since early 2010, when it stood at just 2 percent. Rental vacancies have been much worse for Atlanta — in 2010, the rental vacancy rate never dipped below 13 percent and was as high as 14.9 percent at the beginning of the year.
Rental vacancy rate: 13.5%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 4.0%
For both rentals and owned homes in Memphis, the proportion of vacant homes is high compared to most other major U.S. cities. With a rental vacancy rate of 13.5 percent, the city is the 11th highest in the nation, while the 4 percent homeowner vacancy rate ranks the city ninth.
Rental vacancy rate: 19.3%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.6%
Of the 75 largest cities in the U.S., Toledo, Ohio, has the highest rate for rental vacancies at 19.3 percent, although in the third quarter of 2010 the rate was much higher, at 24.1 percent. Toledo also has a high proportion of empty homes, at 3.6 percent, which ranks it 17th among major U.S. cities.
Rental vacancy rate: 13.5%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 5.2%
The capital of Indiana is also one of the emptiest major cities in the country, according to data from the Census Bureau. The 5.2 percent home vacancy rate in Indianapolis ranks it fifth in the country, while the 13.5 percent rental vacancy rate places it 10th. With these levels, the city is more vacant than nearly every other major U.S. metro area.
Rental vacancy rate: 15.9%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 6.8%
The emptiest city in the U.S. is the second largest city in Arizona: Tucson. With rental vacancies at 15.9 percent, the city is seventh most vacant among major cities, while the 6.8 percent homeowner vacancy rate is the highest in the country as of the second quarter of 2011.