The U.S. Cities With The Most Vacant Homes

The U.S. housing market is trending upward and is the strongest it’s ever been. This is clear in the number of vacant homes across the country. Nationwide, the average home vacancy rate is only 1.52 percent which is the lowest it has been since the 1990s.

This article outlines the states that have the most vacant homes in the U.S. These are cities where at least 5,000 homes, including apartments and condos, sit vacant. A large number of areas with vacant homes are located in the Midwest, where state laws make it harder for people to buy homes.

Gary, Indiana

GettyImages-132058332
Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

At one point, Gary was a major city in Indiana with a thriving steel industry and was even the home of the Jackson Five. However, many of the steel companies were eventually taken over by businesses in other cities and states through mergers and acquisitions.

Gary, Indiana was soon labeled “abandoned” and as of 2014, only 78,000 people live there. This is a massive drop from the 178,000 people that resided here during the ’90s. The total number of single-family homes in Gary is 29,501 with over 5,728 vacant homes which represent 19.4 percent of the total.

Flint, Michigan

General View of downtown Flint
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Flint, Michigan has faced numerous hardships in the recent past, like the water crisis, job losses, and high unemployment rates. General Motors also shut its factory in the city which affected many citizens. Burned-down houses, abandoned homes, and trash dumps are common sights for the people in this city.

During the ’90s, Flint had a booming population of 156,000 but as of 2018, this number stands at just 95,943. One reason for the large number of vacant homes in Flint is that many are in poor shape and need to be demolished. The total number of homes in Flint is 57,118 and 8,986 of those are vacant.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, MI
Spencer Platt via Getty Images
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Another city in Michigan, Detroit, is home to some of the cheapest real estate in the country. According to Business Insider, you can become a homeowner in Detroit if you have just $1,000. The city has numerous run-down and abandoned properties and the Detroit Land Bank Authority held an auction to sell these homes. The bidding started at $1,000.

The reason for so many vacant homes in the city is because of them need extensive renovations but there’s simply not enough money to do it. The median income in Flint is $30,344. The total number of homes in Flint is 57,118, and 8,986 are vacant.

Baltimore, Maryland

Discarded furniture lays on the ground
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The city of Baltimore in Maryland is, unfortunately, known for its large number of vacant homes. Construction crews work at unprecedented levels to tear down the many empty properties. The housing board in the city has pledged to level the crumbling homes scattered around the city.

However, this goal is a far reach as the number of vacant homes in Baltimore only continues to increase. These run-down homes have also reduced property values drastically. The total number of homes in Baltimore is 215,810 and 17,382 of them are vacant.

Kansas City, Missouri

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Photo by Richard Jordan/Hulton Archive via Getty Images
Photo by Richard Jordan/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

If you live in Kansas City, chances are you live near an abandoned home. The large numbers of vacant homes there have lowered the economic status of the city and drastically decrease the property values of homes in surrounding neighborhoods.

In order to tackle the problem, the city granted $10 million to demolish more than 800 homes in Kansas City. This money has really helped the city with these run-down homes as residents say that the cost of demolishing a single house can be as much as $8,500. The total number of homes in Kansas City is 109,260 and 6,077 of them are vacant.

Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

After the housing crash of 2008, the vacancy rates throughout America began to rise. One city that’s a victim of this epidemic is Birmingham, Alabama. When the vacancy rates increase, it also leads to more trespassers and crimes in the area.

A hotel in Birmingham also burned down recently because properties that are not inhibited for long periods of time are more prone to fires. Many residents of the city are looking to move to downtown Birmingham which would reduce the number of vacant properties. The total number of homes is 148,174 and 8,107 of those are vacant.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head
Facebook/watmontenegro
Facebook/watmontenegro

Hilton Head Island is a beach town located in South Carolina. The state is only 42 square miles and is a famous vacation spot for the wealthy. The people who vacation in Hilton Head tend to be retirees and young families who visit the island for its picturesque beaches.

There are a variety of activities that you enjoy at Hilton Head like museums, a wildlife refuge and numerous sandy beaches. Despite this, the little coastal town is also the second on the list for the most vacant homes in the U.S. The total number of homes is 30,945 out of which 5,229 homes are vacant.

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama
Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge via Getty Images
Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge via Getty Images

Another city in Alabama with a huge number of vacant homes is Mobile. This city is known for its large income inequality and has an unregulated real estate industry. Mobile is full of blighted neighborhoods where homes are either abandoned or run-down.

Innovation teams are looking for ways to reduce the number of blighted properties in the city. One team, in particular, came up with the HB 430 bill, which allows people to claim ownership of their home rather than pay fines on their blighted properties. A judge would then sanction state funds to make the home safe for occupancy. This is expected to decrease the number of vacant homes in Mobile in the next few years. The total number of vacant properties there is 5,049.

St. Petersburg, Florida

downtown St Petersburg
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The number of vacant homes has continued to rise in St. Petersburg, Florida, along with the crime rate in the city. Residents blame the crimes on the number of vacant homes and have urged the city council to solve this problem.

In response to this, the city launched the program “Rebate for Residential Rehabs,” which hopes to incentivize homeowners to renovate their properties or sell them to a developer. Since the inception of the program, the number of vacant homes has decreased drastically. There are currently 6,893 of vacant homes in St. Petersburg.

West Palm Beach, Florida

Florida
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the wake of the housing crash, the city of West Palm Beach, Florida became riddled with vacant homes, run-down neighborhoods, and high crime rates. This is the second-highest city in Florida in terms of the number of vacant homes. This figure does not include seasonal vacant homes that are empty during parts of the year.

For some economists, this comes as no surprise as the number of foreclosures in the city outweighs the construction of new properties. This has also decreased the property value of many homes in West Palm Beach, which has homeowners on edge. The total number of vacant homes is 5,670.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The housing bust of 2007 hit some cities harder than others, one of them being Cleveland in Ohio. Just after the crash, nearly 783 homes in the city filed for foreclosure. These homes were left abandoned and some of them decayed while others were vandalized.

One resident in Cleveland believed she could make a change for the better and introduced the Slavic Village Recovery Project. This initiative partnered with non-profits that help flip homes that have become run down. The improved homes were then sold for between $50,000 and $87,000. The total number of vacant homes in Cleveland is 9,386.

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton
SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images
SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images

The second-highest Ohio city in terms of vacant homes is Dayton. However, many statistics show that the housing market also shows an upward trend. Unlike other cities, the large number of vacant homes in Dayton has not led to an increased crime rate.

The vacancy rates in Dayton also include homes that have not yet been flipped, along with houses that are owned by people who live outside the city. 2016 and 2017 saw the strongest housing market in Ohio since the crash. The total number of vacant homes here is 6,269.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis canal walk looking into downtown
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Since the 2007 crash, the city of Indianapolis in Indiana has faced a major housing crisis. The city is scattered with numerous vacant homes. One reason for this is the death spiral of the steel mills that have slashed their workforces, causing people to move to other cities to find employment.

Many residents in Indianapolis say that the landscape of the city is defined by its empty houses and run-down neighborhoods. Statistics show that 1 in 4 homes in the city are either abandoned or demolished. This has also made Indianapolis a haven for crime. The total number of vacant homes here is 11,104.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri
Raymond Boyd via Getty Images
Raymond Boyd via Getty Images

For many decades, blighted neighborhoods, abandoned and vacant homes have been a major crisis for the city of St. Louis, Missouri. This is attributable to the decline in population over the past few years.

Places with thriving businesses and residential homes have now been abandoned, leaving vast areas of empty space. In order to combat this issue, the city council has introduced plans to renovate or reoccupy these homes. They hope this will reduce the crime rate in St. Louis as well. The total number of vacant homes is 8,662.

Memphis, Tennessee

Partial view of downtown Memphis
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

A vacant home or a blighted neighborhood is a common sight in the city of Memphis in Tennessee. These blighted properties are not only an eyesore but have also attracted high crime rates.

While the city tries to clean up the mess, they are incredibly overwhelmed as the number of run-down properties continues to increase. Some buildings have even been abandoned for as long as 10 years. Many citizens have also filed lawsuits about these vacant homes that continue to wreck nearby neighborhoods. There are 7,433 vacant homes in Memphis.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City Skyline
Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Oklahoma City is another city with lots of vacant homes that are costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Many neighborhoods are lined with abandoned and neglected homes. A large number of these homes are located in the sixth and seventh ward where crime rates are high.

To combat the issue the city has introduced an aggressive program that charges penalties to people who own homes that have been vacant for longer than six months. There are 6,362 vacant homes in Oklahoma City.

Pompano Beach, Florida

Pompano Beach
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Pompano Beach is a coastal town located on the eastern shores of Florida. This town is a place where numerous tourists flock each summer to relax and do some shopping while enjoying some good food at the beachside restaurants. However, there is a steep decline in the occupancy rate in the homes in this town.

While the city is a popular vacation destination, the city itself has many vacant properties. This is partly due to the fact that there are numerous vacation homes but very few local residents. The total number of residential properties is 151,054, out of which 5,010 are vacant.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta skyline, as photographed from Jackson Street
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Another major city that is a victim of vacant properties is Atlanta. The housing crisis has become incredibly expensive for the city with regards to property taxes and fire and police services. This led to a decline in the value of neighboring areas as well.

Moreover, the cost to solve the issue of vacant homes can be as high as $2.7 million a year. The blighted neighborhoods have spillover effects on other areas that face a decline in property value as well. However, the government is actively working towards creating new reforms to deal with the problem. There are 6,350 vacant properties in Atlanta.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

The public authorities of Fort Lauderdale in Florida purchased a lot of vacant properties to help redevelop some of its poorest neighborhoods. However, a decade later these properties still remain vacant. These empty homes are filled with weeds and debris which pile up over the years.

The city council hopes to change the situation by building family homes in the empty land. City officials hope that these new homes will convince existing homeowners to maintain their properties as well. There are 7,504 empty homes in Fort Lauderdale.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bruce Bennett via Getty Images
Bruce Bennett via Getty Images

Philadelphia is home to large expanses of vacant lands and for many years the city council was unable to take any action on this due to bureaucracy, scandals, and a lack of transparency. This vacant land not only decreases the value of the homes but increases crime as well.

The city council passed a new bill that makes the sale and development of vacant land easier. The price offered for the property depends on factors such as purpose, social impact, and financial requirements. There are 11,910 vacant properties in Philadelphia.