It’s no secret that the U.S. housing market has seen better days. From falling home values and impaired labor mobility to backed-up inventories and a flood of foreclosures, the real-estate downturn has affected the economy at large in countless ways.
One of the unfortunate results of a bad housing market are empty homes. Vacant properties have increased by 43.8 percent nationwide since 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Homes can be vacant for many reasons, but are defined by the bureau as both unoccupied rental inventory as well as homes that are unoccupied and “for sale.” As of 2011, there were about 14.3 million year-round vacant housing units in the country, with a 10.6 percent gross vacancy rate that excludes seasonal vacancies such as vacation homes.
Earlier this year, the Cleveland Federal Reserve analyzed the impact of foreclosed and vacant homes on the surrounding communities. The study found that a vacant or tax delinquent house decreases the value of nearby homes by at least 1.3 percent, thanks to poor maintenance, and because the empty makes the neighborhood appear less desirable.
This effect is amplified in higher-income neighborhoods where a vacancy or foreclosure has a negative price impact of 4.6 percent. In low poverty areas, each additional vacant or tax delinquent home was found to reduce values of surrounding properties by between 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent.
Each quarter, the Census Bureau publishes data on homeowner and rental vacancies in the 75 largest cities. Listed here are the 10 cities with the most vacancies, using a weighted ranking of both rental and homeowner vacancies based on a 12-month average of both kinds of vacancy rates to smooth out sampling errors. Weights are assigned to rental and homeowner vacancies according to the national proportion of homes to rental properties in the U.S. Our list reveals the most significant outliers in both categories relative to other major U.S. cities.
See the full slideshow: The 10 Emptiest U.S. Cities 2012 or check out below to see the top five: