The number of vacant homes in an area can greatly reflect the overall health of the local housing market and be an indicator of how easy it may be to buy or sell there, according to a new analysis from LendingTree, an online mortgage marketplace.
Buyers generally will have more choices and leeway in negotiations in areas with high vacancy rates. Sellers, on the other hand, may have to wait longer for a sale as they face greater competition. In areas with lower vacancy rates, however, homeowners may be able to sell their homes quickly and for higher prices, and buyers may have less wiggle room negotiations.
LendingTree ranked the nation’s 50 largest metro areas from highest to lowest vacancy rates. The areas with higher vacancy rates tend to be more affordable to the average consumer—but not always, researchers note.
San Jose, Calif.; Minneapolis; and Denver are the metros with the lowest vacancy rates in the nation, at 4.26 percent, 4.96 percent, and 5.35 percent, respectively. “Vacancy rates in these areas are low for a variety of reasons, ranging from strong job opportunities to a growing influx of millennial home buyers,” LendingTree says. “People looking to sell their home will likely have an easy time in any of these metros, but future homeowners who are in the market to buy might struggle to find a place.”
On the flip side, the highest vacancy rates in the nation can be found in Miami (17.09%); Orlando, Fla. (15.93%); and Tampa, Fla. (15.25%). These metros each have a much higher vacancy rate than the overall nationwide average of 9.44 percent.
“One of the main reasons vacancy rates are so high in these areas is that Florida is a popular destination for home owners to buy secondary residences,” the report notes. “These types of residences often remain unused throughout most of the year, with their owners only living in them during select times, like winter. This means they count as vacant in our data.”