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America’s top 10 most vacant cities

As cities expand and contract, America shows signs of improvement regarding vacancy rates, but these ten remain the most vacant in the nation, led by Tucson, Arizona.

A shifting population

America is not only experiencing a down economy, our nation is experiencing a shifting population. According to a recent report, between now and 2050, America will add 93 million to its total population, which the National Association of Realtors translates to mean 43 million housing units will need to be added for sale or lease to match the pace of the population growth.

Although the growth is expected to increase in coming years, many cities are not yet feeling that growth. Continued unemployment and underemployment plague cities that lost population at the peak of the recession. Many cities like Las Vegas have extremely high foreclosure rates compared to the national average, and they are losing homeowners that are becoming renters or leaving the city in search of work. The inventory levels of vacant homes are high in these areas.

In other cities, like Memphis, renters are now being cycled into homeowners which is leaving a glut of inventory of rental units and having an impact on the overall housing ecosystem.

Most cities are seeing signs of recovery and improvements in housing sales and rents, and vacancy levels are not as dramatic as they have been in past years, but the following ten cities remain the top 10 most vacant, according to Forbes.

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Top 10 most vacant cities

  1. Tucson, AZ
  2. Memphis, TN
  3. Indianapolis, IN
  4. Toledo, OH
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. Las Vegas, NV
  7. Jacksonville, FL
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Dayton, OH
  10. St. Louis, MO

By adding 93 million people to the American melting pot within the next four decades, this list of vacant cities is likely to change dramatically by the end of that growth spurt and it is hard to tell which industries will be winners by then. For now, unemployment and foreclosures have caused these ten cities to have high vacancy rates, but as the economy continues to improve, many of these cities will fall off of the list.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.



  1. Ben Goheen

    April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I think #3 should be Indianapolis, IN. Unless in fact you did mean the extremely small town of Indianapolis Iowa:

  2. Karen

    April 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I’m a little baffled by Indianapolis because it’s been on the top of the lists for most affordable, most liveable and best economies for several years.

  3. Hans Campestrini

    April 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Tucson has many “snow bird” home owners who spend the winter here but live elsewhere during the rest of the year. Most are gone by April when the Census takers make their rounds, thus you get this distorted view.

  4. Susan Milner

    May 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    typo..Indianapolis is in IN not IA

  5. Dave Smith

    May 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Very old story from October of 2011, Yes I did write about it and why we expect to be #1 in Tucson.

  6. AgentGenius

    May 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Dave, the case continues to be that Tucson is the most vacant, even if it had been for a decade, that does not detract from discussing vacant areas.

  7. Dave Smith

    May 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    No, it wasn’t a decade, it was October 2011, but if you read my post you will see that is will continue to be the most vacant city because of their criteria. Ex. “Frog with no legs goes deaf”

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