America’s Ten Sickest Housing Markets

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10. Oklahoma City, OK
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 5.2% (6th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 9.6% (34th)
> Total housing units: 539,077
> Unemployment: 4.9%

Oklahoma City had the sixth highest homeowner vacancy rate in the country as of the second quarter of this year. The city’s unemployment rate is just 5.3%, but this low rate has not helped improve high home and rental vacancy. From last year, home sales in Oklahoma state dropped by 7.7%, according to the state’s newspaper NewsOK. In the city, sales were flat from last year. Between the second quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, the median home price in the city dropped by 4.5%.

9. St. Louis, MO
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 3.3% (19th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 11.4% (18th)
> Total housing units: 1,236,222
> Unemployment: 8.6%

In 2008 and 2009, the St. Louis area has shed more than 82,000 jobs. This loss had a negative impact on the city’s real estate market. Vacancy rates have continued to rise, increasing from under 2% one year ago to 3.3% in the recent quarter. The rise in vacancy rates has occurred while the median sales price for single family homes has fallen more than 19% since 2008. While rental vacancy rate, which is currently at 11.4%, has decreased slightly since the last quarter, it is still 1.6 percentage points higher than it was last year. St. Louis office vacancy rate is at 12.6%, according to real estate information company CoStar Group.

8. Kansas City, MO (Tied for 8th)
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 3.7% (13th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 11% (22nd)
> Total housing units: 883,099
> Unemployment: 8.4%

Kansas City’s rental vacancy rate of 11% is the 22nd highest of any major city in the country, while its homeowner vacancy rate of 3.7% is the 13th highest. The city has a relatively high rate of unemployment, at 8.4%. While it’s below the national average of 9.2%, it is well above the state average of 6.6%. The median home price in the city is down by $19,000, or more than 13%, since 2008. Most of that decline came in the last year. Between the second quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of this year, prices dropped by more than $25,000.

7. Detroit, MI (Tied for 8th)
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 2.4% (32nd)
> Rental vacancy rates: 17.2% (3rd)
> Total housing units: 1,886,537
> Unemployment: 11.6%

The recession hasn’t been kind to Detroit. Part of the Detroit-Warren-Livonia metropolitan area, it has been among the hardest hit cities in the country. Since 2005, the metropolitan area has lost approximately 323,400 jobs. Unemployment in the Motor City almost reached 30% in 2009. According to one estimate, the city had 90,000 abandoned or vacant lots or residential homes in 2010. One of the reasons the city is not at the top of this list is that the city had so many vacant properties that a huge portion of them were demolished. Regardless, at 17.2%, the rate of rental vacancy is still the third highest rate in the nation.

6. Dayton, OH
> Homeowner vacancy rates: 4.7% (7th)
> Rental vacancy rates: 10.7% (23rd)
> Total housing units: 385,160
> Unemployment: 9.3%

Dayton’s home vacancy rate of 4.7% is the seventh-highest in the country among major cities. At one time, Dayton was a much larger city and an economic powerhouse. The Ohio city, which was a major manufacturing center, was at one point awarded more patents each year than any other place in the U.S. The city has a particularly bad unemployment rate of 9.3%. Median housing price, which stood at $109,000 in 2008, has fallen by 29%, or $27,000, between 2008 and the first quarter of this year.