While housing shortages are a more commonly cited problem than housing vacancies in the real estate market, some areas of the country are seeing a higher number of empty homes than others. Empty homes can be a concern as they can sometimes lead to economic blight. But a high number of empty homes doesn’t necessarily mean trouble, economists say.
More than 16 million homes are sitting vacant across the U.S., according to new research from LendingTree, which ranked the nation’s 50 states by their shares of unoccupied homes.
Vermont, Maine, and Alaska have the highest vacancy rates—between 22% and 20%, according to the study.
“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,” says Jacob Channel, LendingTree’s senior economist analyst. “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.”