(NEXSTAR) – About 16 million homes are sitting vacant across the U.S., according to a report using census data, and more than 1 million of those are in California.
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 has between 20% and 22% of its housing stock vacant. The three states combined are home to more than 315,000 unoccupied units.
At No. 46 on the list, California ranks among the states with the lowest vacancy rates, but because the Golden State is so large it still has the second-highest number of empty homes. According to the report, 8.7% of California’s housing stock is vacant. That comes out to about 1.2 million empty units.
Only Florida has more empty homes, with about 1.7 million vacant 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.
Many of the states with low vacancy rates, like California, are seen as highly desirable places to live and often have extremely competitive housing markets.
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.
Unsurprisingly to anyone living in California, low vacancy rates here are correlated with high prices. Of all 50 states, California has the second-highest median home value at $593,400. Only Hawaii’s is higher.
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.