While housing inventory remains close to historic lows, nearly 5.5 million homes across the nation’s largest metro areas remain vacant, according to new data published by LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE).
The average vacancy rate across the 50 largest U.S. metros is 7.22%. New Orleans, Miami and Tampa have the highest vacancy rates at 13.88%, 12.65% and 12.15%, respectively. Only three metro areas have vacancy rates below 5%: Minneapolis, Austin, and Washington, D.C.
LendingTree observed that on average, roughly one-quarter (26.61%) of the vacancies occur because the properties are for rent, while an average of 17.04% are vacant because they’re only used part time and an average of 7.98% are empty because they’re being repaired or renovated.
“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 Economist Jacob Channel. “Instead, it could mean that the area is rapidly building new homes and/or rental units in order to accommodate a growing population, it can also mean that an area is a popular spot for secondary or vacation homes that go unused for most of the year.”