(NEXSTAR) – More than 16 million homes are sitting vacant across the U.S., according to a report using census data.
The study by LendingTree ranked the nation’s 50 states by their shares of unoccupied homes. The highest vacancy rates were found in Vermont, Maine and Alaska. Each state has between 20% and 22% of its housing stock vacant.
The three states combined are home to more than 315,000 unoccupied units.
Other states rank lower on the list but have many more vacant units because they are larger. Florida, for example, is No. 6 on the list. About 17% of states in Florida are vacant, according to the report. That’s nearly 1.7 million housing units.
Just because a home is vacant doesn’t mean it’s rotting away. The report points out there are several reasons a home could be vacant; it may be on the market or it could be a vacation home. There’s also the chance it’s uninhabitable.
The states with the lowest vacancy rates were Oregon, Washington and Connecticut, New Jersey and California. Many parts of those states have extremely competitive housing markets and are seen as very desirable places to live.
A low vacancy rate often means there’s strong demand in the housing market, and typically home prices are higher, writes LendingTree. But the opposite isn’t always true. Some of the states with high vacancy rates have affordable housing markets, while others have lots of expensive homes that are simply sitting vacant most of the time because they are vacation homes or weekend homes.
The states with the highest vacancy rates are:
- Vermont (22.9%)
- Maine (22.7%)
- Alaska (20.5%)
- West Virginia (18.1%)
- Alabama (17.7%)
- Florida (17.1%)
- New Hampshire (16.7%)
- Mississippi (16.3%)
- Louisiana (16.2%)
- Wyoming (15.9%)
The states with the lowest vacancy rates are:
- Oregon (7.8%)
- Washington (7.9%)
- Connecticut (8.1%)
- New Jersey (8.5%)
- California (8.7%)
- Massachusetts (8.7%)
- Maryland (9.1%)
- Illinois (9.1%)
- Utah (9.5%)
- Colorado (9.5%)
See the full ranking list of vacancy rates by state from LendingTree. The company used the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey to write its vacancy report.