11.4% of all U.S. homes are vacant

Housing market: 13% of all homes are vacant in the U.S. By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- There is a correction on this story.

High residential vacancies are killing many housing markets, as foreclosed homes sit on the market and depress sale prices and property values.

The national vacancy rate at 11.4% according to a release Tuesday from the Census Bureau.

"Vacant homes equal more downward pressure on home prices," said Brad Hunter, chief economist for Metrostudy, a real estate information provider.

Maine had the highest proportion of empty housing stock, at 22.8%. Other states with gluts of empty houses included Vermont (20.5%), Florida (17.5%), Arizona (16.3%) and Alaska (15.9%).

The way the census calculates the vacancy rates, however, is problematic. It includes properties such as ski lodges, beach houses and pied-à-terres that many real estate statisticians would not.

These are often summer homes or second homes, but census lumps them together with homes that have been sold but not occupied, empty homes for sale or rent, and homes used by migrant workers. Basically, anything other than a primary residence is considered vacant.

"You can only live in one home," said William Chapin of the Census Bureau's Housing Statistics Branch. "If you own five homes that you occasionally live in, four of them will be counted as vacant."

But Paul Bishop, the vice president for research for the National Association of Realtors, countered that these properties aren't vacant in the usual sense of the term. "A vacation home is hardly the same situation as a foreclosed home that has been taken back by the bank," he said.

In Maine, more than two-thirds of the 160,000 vacancies were vacation homes in 2009; Vermont had a similarly high concentration.

Compare them with Connecticut, which has a vacancy rate of just 7.9%, the lowest of all the states. If you back out the vacation properties from the statistics, the states have very similar vacancy rates: 6.1% for Connecticut and 7% for Maine.

Some states have high vacancy rates even after backing out the second homes: Florida's is about 10%; Arizona's is 10.7%; and Nevada's 11.4%.

Besides Connecticut, the other states with lowest vacancy rates are California, Iowa, Illinois, Virginia and Washington, all at 9.2% or lower.

The original version of this story incorrectly stated the vacancy rate. We regret the error.  To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.17%4.24%
15 yr fixed3.26%3.30%
5/1 ARM3.33%3.42%
30 yr refi4.16%4.22%
15 yr refi3.25%3.29%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,172.68 -107.06 -0.62%
Nasdaq 4,527.69 -52.10 -1.14%
S&P 500 1,994.29 -16.11 -0.80%
Treasuries 2.57 -0.02 -0.81%
Data as of 6:17pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.03 0.08 0.47%
Yahoo! Inc 38.65 -2.28 -5.57%
Apple Inc 101.06 0.10 0.10%
EMC Corp 29.68 0.15 0.51%
Microsoft Corp 47.06 -0.46 -0.97%
Data as of 4:01pm ET

Sections

Ferrari is recalling 3,000 of its exotic 458 sports cars because people get trapped inside the front storage compartment. More

UPS announced Monday that it's bringing its in-store 3-D printing service to nearly 100 stores across the country. More

Big pocketed borrowers are paying lower average rates on jumbo loans and lenders are now requiring down payments of just 10% -- and, in some cases, waiving the mortgage insurance, too. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.