The States With the Highest Home Vacancy Rates (and Why It Matters)

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Now is definitely not a good time to be looking for a new place to live. It hasn’t been a good time in, well, a long time, as it seems like demand is consistently and drastically outweighing supply, whether you’re looking to rent or buy. But it may be a little bit easier in some states than in others to find a vacant home, according to an analysis from LendingTree.

Obviously, the housing market is complex, and vacancy rates are just one small piece of the puzzle. A low vacancy rate could indicate high demand and limited supply in a competitive market, which may be linked to higher prices. Or it could mean that sellers are simply letting their homes go for less. Conversely, high vacancy rates in high-price areas may simply indicate a plethora of vacation or investment properties that aren’t occupied full time.

A significant caveat to LendingTree’s methodology is that the report uses data from the US Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, with “one-year experimental estimates.” As we’ve seen, the housing market changes quickly and constantly, so data that are many months old may not accurately reflect vacancy rates today. State-level numbers also cannot capture hyper-local differences.

The Census Bureau does publish quarterly vacancy rates broken down by region, along with other vacancy and homeownership data. For example, in the first quarter of 2022, the national homeowner vacancy rate was 0.8% compared to a national rental vacancy rate of 5.8%. The rates were 0.9% and 6.8%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2021. Rental vacancy rates were highest in the South (7.1%) and lowest in the West (4.5%), while homeowner vacancy rates were comparable everywhere (0.8%) –0.9%) except the West, which is much lower at 0.5%.

Also note that the “vacant” category combines a bunch of subcategories, including seasonal homes and homes that have been sold but the new owner hasn’t moved in yet. So vacant units are not necessarily available to rent or buy.

All that said, here are the states where you’ll find the highest and lowest vacancy rates.

States with the highest vacancy rates

  1. Vermont: 22.86%
  2. Maine: 22.68%
  3. Alaska: 20.51%
  4. West Virginia: 18.12%
  5. Alabama: 17.69%
  6. Florida: 17.13%
  7. New Hampshire: 16.74%
  8. Mississippi: 16.26%
  9. Louisiana: 16.21%
  10. Wyoming: 15.88%

States with the lowest vacuum rates

  1. Oregon: 7.76%
  2. Washington: 7.87%
  3. Connecticut: 8.09%
  4. New Jersey: 8.45%
  5. California: 8.68%
  6. Massachusetts: 8.73%
  7. Illinois: 9.12%
  8. Maryland: 9.14%
  9. Utah: 9.46%
  10. Colorado: 9.50%

The states listed generally reflect the most recent data from the Census Bureau on regional vacancy rates. Again, though, this is just one indicator of the housing market.

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