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This new study ranks states by number of vacant homes

The latest data is in, and new trends on vacant homes are now available – which states are on the top, and which are on the bottom?

An aerial view of a suburban neighborhood with many occupied and vacant homes with red rooves surrounded by green trees.

A recent study by LAHomes shows which states have the highest number of vacant homes–and which ones are struggling to free up space for new occupants.

The study relies on data from the U.S. Census Bureau Population Survey and includes an assessment of states’ vacancy rates between 2011 and 2021. The United States average for vacant homes during this time frame was 12.6 percent. 

At the top of the vacancy list is Maine, with a whopping rate of 23.9 percent of homes being vacant in the 10-year span of time. The study notes that the rate ranged from a low of 22.5 percent (fittingly, in 2020) all the way up to 26.6 percent in 2013.

Alaska and Vermont are directly behind Maine, with average vacancies of 21.4 and 21.3 percent, respectively. Perhaps surprisingly, Florida is ranked fourth, clocking in at just over 20 percent vacancies–though the study recognizes that Florida is also the most heavily populated state on the list, adding an asterisk to the state’s rank.

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West Virginia marks a substantial drop in average vacancies from the 20s to the teens with an average of 17.7 percent during the decade surveyed; the remaining states–in order, Delaware, Alabama, New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Arizona–all fall within one percent of this rate, signifying a remarkably above-average vacancy rate for the ten states with least-occupied housing.

By contrast, California is–unsurprisingly–the country’s least-vacant state, earning an average vacancy rate of 8.5 percent. However, second place for this list goes to Washington at 8.7 percent, indicating a surge in popularity in the last decade.

Iowa ranks third at 9.5 percent.

Interestingly enough, both Connecticut and Ohio tied for fourth, earning average scores of 9.91 percent of homes being vacant during the survey. It’s worth noting that Ohio did have a higher vacancy rate–13 percent–at its peak, while Connecticut had 7.8 percent at its lowest.

The remaining states–Nebraska, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, and Utah, respectively–ranged from vacancy rates of 10.02 to 10.7. Compared to Arizona–the least-vacant state on the list of the ten most-vacant states in the country, coming in at 16.7 percent–even Utah’s homes demonstrated six percent more occupancy during this time.

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A spokesperson for LAHomes clarified that, while vacancy rates appear to be trending downwards, plenty of these rates have also fluctuated during the past 10 years, with a variety of economic factors playing a part in the evolution of these numbers.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.


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