10. Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 50.7%
> Vacancy rate: 21.3% (24th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 31.1% (the highest)
More than half of all vacant homes in the Atlantic City area are used for seasonal, recreational, or just occasional purposes. This is due in part to the inflow of tourists and vacationers — over 30 million each year, according to New Jersey’s official tourism website. Atlantic City is especially well known for its famed boardwalk, its beaches, and, perhaps most of all, for its casinos. Among the major casinos in Atlantic City are Caesars, Harrah’s and the Trump Taj Mahal. However, casinos in Atlantic City have continuously lost money in recent years, and two years ago the state took over the tourism district in order to help the gaming industry survive.
9. Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 50.8%
> Vacancy rate: 26.2% (12th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 9.4% (158th highest)
The Niles-Benton Harbor area, which consists entirely of Berrien County, is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. The lakeside destination is a popular location for summer homes, including for families from the Chicago area, which is less than a two-hour drive away. As of 2011, over 10,000 homes in Berrien County were used either seasonally or only occasionally. Many homes in the area, especially in Saint Joseph, can often exceed $1 million. Among the area’s draws are its beaches and the Krasl Art Center.
8. Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, Wash.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 51.9%
> Vacancy rate: 20.6% (26th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 12.1% (45th highest)
The Wenatchee area is popular with Seattle residents looking for second homes. Numerous upscale properties surround Wenatchee. Homes in the area tend to be fairly expensive, with a median value of more than $234,000 as of 2011, well above the U.S. median of $173,600, and prices can reach well into the millions. One of the primary attractions for tourists is the Wenatchee River, which flows into the Columbia River — splitting Wenatchee and East Wenatchee. While these second homes are used in the winter, they are especially popular in the summer months. Visitors to the area enjoy hiking along the Apple Trail and visiting Lake Wenatchee State Park.
7. Wilmington, N.C.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 55.4%
> Vacancy rate: 26.6% (11th highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 11.5% (54th highest)
More than one quarter of Wilmington area homes were vacant in 2011, of which 55% were used largely for seasonal purposes. Among the tourist destinations in the area are multiple beaches and popular destinations, including Figure Eight Island and Bald Head Island. As tourists arrive each summer, leisure and hospitality employment jumps, last year adding over 5,000 jobs between the start of the year and the end of the summer. This year, leisure and hospitality employment reached a record high, with over 25,000 workers in the sector.
6. Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C.
> Pct. vacancy for seasonal use: 59.6%
> Vacancy rate: 42.1% (2nd highest)
> Entertainment & accommodation employment: 19.9% (4th highest)
Vast beaches, numerous golf courses and affordable prices drive tourists to Myrtle Beach each year. During the summer, employment in the Myrtle Beach area swells as tourists arrive. In 2012, employment jumped from 103,000 at the start of the year to over 125,000 in the summer. As of 2011, nearly 20% of area workers were employed in entertainment, accommodation, or food services jobs, the fourth highest percentage in the nation. That same year, over 42% of Myrtle Beach homes were vacant, the second highest percentage in the nation. Nearly 60% of these homes were vacant due to seasonal or only occasional use, close to double the national percentage.