While the housing market grapples with its thirst for more inventory, more than 16 million homes across the U.S. are sitting vacant, according to a new study by LendingTree.
Vermont, Maine and Alaska have the highest state vacancy rates at 22.86%, 22.68% and 20.51%, respectively. That translates to more than 315,000 unoccupied houses across the three states.
Oregon, Washington and Connecticut have the lowest state vacancy rates at 7.76%, 7.87% and 8.09%, respectively.
Note that these are percentages. The lowest vacancy rates don’t necessarily mean the fewest vacant homes. The 521,000 unoccupied housing units across the three lowest vacancy rate states still represent 206,000 more vacant homes than the three highest.
Home prices in states with higher vacancy rates are often — but not always — lower than in states with lower vacancy rates. Median home prices across the 10 states with the highest vacancy rates are an average of about $18,000 lower than in the 10 states with the lowest vacancy rates.
“Homes can be vacant for a variety of reasons, and just because an area has a high vacancy rate doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with its housing market,” said LendingTree’s Senior Economic Analyst and report author, Jacob Channel. “Instead, it could mean that the area is rapidly building new homes for sale in order to satisfy high buyer demand, it can also mean that an area is a popular spot for secondary or vacation homes that go unused for most of the year.”
To get a sense of vacancy rates in the U.S., LendingTree analyzed current housing data to rank the nation’s 50 states by their shares of unoccupied homes.