More than 1.6 million homes in Florida sit vacant; highest in U.S., study says

A new study found that over 16 million homes are sitting empty across the United States -- and Florida has more of those vacant houses than any other state.

The study by LendingTree says nearly 1.7 million homes in the Sunshine State are vacant, even outpacing larger states like California and Texas.

Researchers used the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the states with the highest number of vacant homes:

  1. Florida: 1,680,844
  2. California: 1,248,161
  3. Texas: 1,216,084
  4. New York: 955,437
  5. Michigan: 631,361

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However, when it comes to the vacancy rate, or a state's share of unoccupied homes, Florida comes in at No. 6:

  1. Vermont (22.86%)
  2. Maine (22.68%)
  3. Alaska (20.51%)
  4. West Virginia (18.12%)
  5. Alabama (17.69%)
  6. Florida (17.13%)
  7. New Hampshire (16.74%)
  8. Mississippi (16.26%)
  9. Louisiana (16.21%)
  10. Wyoming (15.88%)

Researchers noted that the national average vacancy rate is 11.66%.

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So why are home prices still so high?

If Florida has one of the hottest housing markets in the country, why are there so many vacant homes here? The study's authors noted that other factors are at play when it comes to real estate.

"High vacancy rates and high home prices can suggest that an area has unique characteristics, such as being a vacation hot spot or targeted by investors," researchers wrote -- an apt description of the Florida housing market.

For other areas of the country, they note that low vacancy rates and high housing prices could suggest a highly competitive market, which would make it tougher for lower-income families to find a home to buy.

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Locally, the housing market has shown no signs of slowing down. Tampa made the number three spot for U.S. cities people are moving to, according to a recent study by the Seattle-based real estate brokerage firm Redfin.

Redfin’s study ranks Miami at number one, followed by Phoenix, Tampa, Sacramento, and Las Vegas to round out the top five.

This is having a significant impact on Tampa Bay’s housing market with Tampa forecasted to be the hottest housing market in the country in 2022, according to Zillow.

Last month, an analysis by Zillow found that housing inventory in the region is down 46% from pre-pandemic levels.

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