Out of nearly 85 million residential properties nationwide, more than 1.3 million (1.6 percent) were vacant in February 2016, down from 1.5 million vacant (1.8 percent) in September 2015, according to a recently released report from RealtyTrac. The report, Q1 2016 U.S. Residential Property Vacancy Analysis, shows that investment properties are more likely to be vacant (4.3 percent vacancy rate nationwide), but investment property vacancy rates a rock-bottom 3 percent in more than one-third of U.S. markets—good news for landlords but bad news for renters in those markets.
Vacant “zombie” foreclosures were down 4 percent from a year ago nationwide, but continue to increase in a minority of markets, mostly those with a protracted foreclosure process or high numbers of blighted properties.
“With several notable exceptions, the challenge facing most U.S. real estate markets is not too many vacant homes but too few,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The razor-thin vacancy rates in many markets are placing upward pressure on home prices and rents. While that may be good news for sellers and landlords, it is bad news for buyers and renters and could be bad news for all if prices and rents are inflated above tolerable affordability thresholds.”
Among 147 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 100,000 residential properties, those with the highest share of vacant properties were Flint, Michigan (7.5 percent), Detroit (5.3 percent), Youngstown, Ohio (4.4 percent), Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (3.8 percent), and Atlantic City, New Jersey (3.7 percent).
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