Special Report

This Is the State With the Most Empty Houses

The residential real estate market in America has been described as out of control. Prices in some markets have risen 50% over the last two years. Nationwide, home prices were up almost 20% in 2021. Despite this boom, some markets have several unoccupied homes, and the state with the most empty houses is Vermont.

While several conditions have contributed to the rise in housing prices, none is more obvious than the historically low mortgage rates. Recently, however, interest rates have begun to rise. (This is the most at risk housing market in America.)

Real estate prices also rose as people moved from expensive coastal cities like New York and San Francisco to inland cities like Boise, Idaho, and Nashville, Tennessee. Median home prices in San Francisco run about three times the national figure of $350,000. Lower real estate prices were often married with an overall lower cost of living in attracting newcomers. (These are the cheapest cities to buy a home.)

Another contributor to American mobility and home prices rise began with the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies required employees to work from home for safety. Many workers will not be asked to go back or may become part of a hybrid workforce.

Unexpectedly, some states have high numbers of unoccupied houses. Online mortgage marketplace LendingTree released a new study titled “16 Million Homes Are Vacant in the U.S. — Here Are the States With the Highest Vacancy Rates.” Some of these homes are damaged enough to be uninhabitable. Others may be for sale and not occupied.  Yet others are summer houses that are not occupied year-round.

The Census Bureau provided data on homes that have no occupants and LendingTree used this to provide its ranking. To find the state with the most empty houses, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed LendingTree’s ranking.

The state with the largest number of unoccupied homes, on a percentage basis, is Vermont at 22.86%. Maine is second at 22.68%, followed by Alaska at 20.51%. The authors note, “In total, that translates to more than 315,000 unoccupied houses across the three states.” These three states, however, are also among the 10 least populous.

At the far end of the list, the vacancy rate in Oregon is 7.76%, followed by Washington state at 8.87%, and Connecticut at 8.09%. These three states have almost 521,000 unoccupied housing units across, nearly 206,000 more vacant homes in Vermont, Maine, and Alaska.

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