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Vacancy Rates Remain at Historic Lows


Jun 17, 2020 by Brad Cartier
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New ATTOM Data Solutions analysis gives us an updated picture of vacancy rates across the U.S. As real estate investors, nothing is more of a business killer than vacant properties, but despite the ongoing economic issues, vacancy rates are relatively stable compared to historical records.

For investors who can keep vacancies low, weathering an economic downturn becomes much easier.

Where vacancies are highest

According to ATTOM, the states with the highest vacancy rates, all standing at 2.6%, were Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. This was followed closely by Indiana at 2.5%.

For lowest vacancy rates, New Hampshire and Vermont stood at 0.4%, followed by Delaware (0.5%), Idaho (0.6%), and North Dakota (0.7%). Unfortunately, ATTOM data didn't publish national vacancy rates.

That said, according to the St Louis Federal Reserve, we are currently experiencing historically low rental vacancy rates. According to their data, the national average vacancy rate for the first quarter of 2020 was 6.6%. In the first quarter of 2019, 2018, and 2017, that number was 7%.

The U.S. Census Bureau notes in their latest vacancy report that "The first quarter 2020 rental vacancy rate was highest in the South (8.5 percent) followed by the Midwest (7.1 percent), the Northeast (5.5 percent), and the West (4.1 percent). The rental vacancy rate in the South was lower than the first quarter 2019 rate, while the rental vacancy rates for the Midwest, Northeast, and West were not statistically different from the first quarter 2019 rates."

Vacancies by cities and counties

According to the ATTOM report, the highest levels of vacant investor-owned homes were in Indiana (8.4%), Kansas (6.6%), Ohio (6.3%), Minnesota (6.1%), and Mississippi (5.8%). For cities with over 100,000 households, here are the ones with the highest vacancy rates in the U.S.:

  • Flint, Michigan (7.01%).
  • Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania (3.74%).
  • Mobile, Alabama (3.74%).
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (3.46%).
  • Montgomery, Alabama (3.45%).
  • Dayton, Ohio (3.33%).
  • Toledo, Ohio (3.27%).
  • Jackson, Mississippi (3.16%).
  • Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan (3.07%).
  • Peoria, Illinois (2.95%).

ATTOM Data Solutions also analyzed vacancy rates at the country level, and here's what they found:

  • Baltimore, Maryland (8.12%).
  • Saint Louis City/County, Missouri (7.42%).
  • Genesee County, Michigan (7.01%).
  • Beaufort County, South Carolina (6.72%).
  • Bibb County, Georgia (5.71%).
  • Hinds County, Missiissippi (5.68%).
  • Saint Clair County, Illinois (5.47%).
  • Wayne County, Michigan (5.39%).
  • Wyandotte County, Kasnsas (5.39%).
  • Montgomery County, Alabama (5.21%).

No matter which vacancy metric you use, we are currently experiencing low vacancy rates as well as rent payments that are on par with 2019, showing that the pandemic has yet to impact the residential rental real estate market in any substantial way.

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