States with the Most Vacant Properties
In the past two decades — particularly after the housing crash of 2008 — we've learned just how housing markets fluctuate and how real estate dynamics play a pivotal role in not only home prices but in the number of vacancies at any given time. These unoccupied dwellings, whether due to seasonal patterns, investment strategies or market conditions, contribute to the tapestry that is the American housing market.
From vacation homes to investor-driven properties to homes that are too far out of reach for the middle and lower classes, these states currently have the most property vacancies.
Average home price: $418,836
Average vacancy rate by percent: 16.7
Arizona, much like Florida, is a snowbird's paradise for both American and Canadian residents who make their way south to soak up the sun during the dark, winter months. In 2020, more than half of the vacant housing units in the Grand Canyon State were used for seasonal, recreational or occasional purposes.
The state is also grappling with a shortage of homes for sale or rent. Despite experiencing a population growth of 14.7 percent from 2010 to 2022, its housing stock only rose 11.9 percent — which means Arizona currently has a deficit of around 100,000 homes.
* Findings sourced from a study by real estate website LAHomes, which collected data from the U.S. Census Bureau Population Survey from 2011 to 2021 to see which state housing vacancies were highest on average.
Average home price:$831,808
Average vacancy rate by percent: 16.9
Due to its location, climate and tourism (its main industry), Hawaii has one of the largest vacancy rates in the U.S. In 2020, 76,622 homes were vacant. On Oahu alone, there were 34,253 unoccupied homes.
In many other states on this list, there are a significant number of second-home owners who keep their units vacant when not in use. In Hawaii, it's a different story — property investors and second-home owners prefer renting out their homes to tourists. The exception lies with Japanese homeowners, who are the largest segment of international buyers in the Aloha State.
8. New Hampshire
Average home price:$445,322
Average vacancy rate by percent: 17.17
Despite the large number of vacant homes in New Hampshire, the state is in short supply for those looking to rent or buy. Once again, the vacant residences located in the state are typically second homes that are not occupied year-round.
New Hampshire Housing’s 2022 Residential Rental Cost Survey Report shows availability for rentals dropped to 0.3 percent for a two-bedroom and 0.5 percent for rental units overall. Potential buyers fare about the same, with availability at only 1.3 percent.
Average home price: $216,564
Average vacancy rate by percent: 17.22
Certain counties in Alabama are so destitute that they've lost enough of the population to create thousands of vacant homes. For example, one of the poorest counties, Greene County, has one of the highest home vacancy rates at over 40 percent.
However, high vacancy rates are not always a sign of poverty. Conversely, Baldwin County, an area known for its stunning beaches, has a vacancy rate of nearly 30 percent.
Average home price: $371,811
Average vacancy rate by percent: 17.6
Delaware, like other coastal states, has an abundance of homes, but they are usually second or seasonal homes for the uber-wealthy. The rich flock to Delaware properties to avoid personal property and sales tax.
One area, Rehoboth Beach, is known as "the Nation’s Summer Capital" and is the closest thing that Washington, D.C., has to a beach town. In fact, President Biden's home is here.
5. West Virginia
Average home price: $154,371
Average vacancy rate by percent: 17.7
With 16.8 percent of West Virginians living below the poverty line, it's no wonder there are so many vacant properties. More people are leaving the state than entering it, and more residents are dying than being born. On top of everything else, the state has the third-highest population over age 65.
In recent years, many West Virginia cities have begun demolishing the blighted properties.
Average home price:$389,325
Average vacancy rate by percent: 20.5
In the case of Florida, high home prices and high vacancy rates boil down to the prevalence of vacation homes (the Sunshine State is the top dog for snowbirds) and investors.
As of 2023, the following cities have the highest number of vacant properties — Pompano Beach at 21.7 percent, Fort Lauderdale at 21.4 percent and Clearwater at 20.7 percent.
Average home price: $373,709
Average vacancy rate by percent: 21.3
Vermont is the only landlocked state on this list, but it's still a vacationer's paradise (particularly in terms of skiing and camping). After all, the majority of vacant homes in the Green Mountain State fall into the category of seasonal or vacation homes.
This dominance of seasonal homes stands in stark contrast to the state's acute shortage of homes designated for rent or sale.
Average home price: $346,818
Average vacancy rate by percent: 21.4
Alaska's unique geography and climate contribute to a large number of vacant homes in the state. The seasonal nature of certain industries, such as tourism and fishing, leads to fluctuations in population, leaving homes unoccupied for several months. Additionally, Alaska is vast and remote, making it challenging to attract a consistent population.
Economic factors also play a role in the vacancy rates. Areas facing a decline in job opportunities may experience higher vacancies as residents move elsewhere in search of better prospects.
Average home price: $379,933
Average vacancy rate by percent: 23.9
At nearly just over 23 percent, Maine has more vacant homes than any other state in the U.S. While those homes are unoccupied, they are not available to rent — they are owned by people who come to the state to vacation, as the state is now becoming a destination for the wealthy.
This lack of properties to rent or buy has created challenges for various businesses around the state. Residents now face difficulties in securing affordable housing, and new homes aren't being built fast enough.