It should come as no surprise that second homeowners love Florida, which may explain why three cities in the Sunshine State currently lead the country in percentage of vacant homes.
According to a new study from online lending company Lending Tree, 17 percent homes in the Miami area are vacant, compared to 16 percent in Orlando, and 15 percent in the Tampa Bay area. Jacksonville was also in the top ten, with a vacancy rate of 13 percent.
The study suggests that while the high vacancy rates in Florida are well above the national average of 9.4 percent, the reasons aren’t necessarily bad. “... Florida is a popular destination for homeowners to buy secondary residences. These types of residences often remain unused throughout most of the year, with their owners only living in them during select times, like winter. This means they count as vacant in our data,” says the study.
Cities like Birmingham, Ala., Memphis, Tenn. and New Orleans also have higher than average vacancy rates, but LendingTree attributes this to things like sluggish economic growth, and loss of population. “New Orleans has yet to fully recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which experienced a loss in population,” says the study. “Although many homes were destroyed, the stock of homes is now higher than before Katrina, but the population has yet to go above its previous high.
Cities among the lowest occupancy rate include San Jose, Calif., Minneapolis and Denver.