5. Baton Rouge, LA
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 3.9% (11th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 13% (12th)
> Total housing units: 329,729
> Unemployment: 8.4%
Baton Rouge did not emerge from the recession unscathed, but it did perform better than many other cities in the U.S., in part because it is the state’s capital city and in part because of the money brought in through Hurricane Katrina recovery work. However, according to one local news station, the area has built more housing structures than it could fill following Katrina. The city has not been able to break free of this situation, as both homeowner vacancy rates and rental vacancy rates have increased not only since last year, but since the last quarter as well.
4. Atlanta, GA
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 5.4% (4th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 11.8% (17th)
> Total housing units: 2,165,495
> Unemployment: 9.7%
Atlanta’s homeowner vacancy rate of 5.4% is the fourth highest among major U.S. cities. The city, which had a significant influx of new residents, particularly from the northeast, has been hit hard. Atlanta’s unemployment rate of 9.7% is well above the national average of 9.2%. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the city had lost nearly 25,000 jobs between June of 2010 and June of this year. Between 2008 and the first quarter of this year, homes have lost more than a third of their value, dropping in price by nearly $50,000.
3. Memphis, TN
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 4% (9th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 13.5% (11th)
> Total housing units: 550,896
> Unemployment: 10.1%
Memphis’s slow economic recovery has kept vacancy rates high. The metropolitan area’s homeowner vacancy rate has increased from 2.5% in 2010 to 4% in the second quarter of 2011. In the city’s defense, its rental vacancy rate has decreased from a staggering 21.2% in 2010 to 13.5%. This is still among the highest in the country, but it is an improvement. The unemployment rate remains at 10.1%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 9.2%.
2. Indianapolis, IN
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 5.2% (5th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 13.5% (10th)
> Total housing units: 757,441
> Unemployment: 7.8%
The median home price has dropped by $20,000, or 13.5%, between the second quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of this year. Indianapolis’s home vacancy rate of 5.2% is the fifth-highest in the country. Its rental vacancy of 13.5% of units is the tenth highest in the country. In 2009, while vacancy had not even reached its worst point, the mayor’s office of Indianapolis recognized the serious problem the city faced. The city’s plan to help solve the abandoned home issue states: “Indianapolis, like many communities, faces a significant challenge in dealing with vacant and abandoned properties. This challenge is exacerbated both by weaknesses in the local and regional housing markets – including an oversupply of housing relative to demand – and by the high and growing rate of foreclosures.”
1. Tucson, AZ
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 6.8% (1st)
> Rental vacancy rates: 15.9% (6th)
> Total housing units: 440,909
> Unemployment: 7.8%
Tucson’s homeowner vacancy rate was 3.2% one year ago. It is now over double that. The city had a booming residential housing market before the crash. Since then, demand is so low that median home prices have dropped 18% in the past year and 33% since 2008. In addition, the city has among the highest rate of foreclosures in the country.
Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre and Michael B. Sauter