The Top 5 U.S. Cities With the Most (& Least) Residential Vacancies

The Top 5 U.S. Cities With the Most (& Least) Residential Vacancies

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Mindy Jensen

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for more than 20 years. Her preferred method of investing is the “live-in flip”—she buys a house, moves in, makes it beautiful, sells it after two years to take advantage of the Section 121 Capital Gains Exemption, and starts the process all over again. She is currently working on her ninth live-in flip.

Mindy is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the Community Manager for BiggerPockets, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. She’s also the co-host of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast.

Mindy is passionate about financial independence and wants to help as many people reach this milestone as possible, so they can live their best lives.

As both an agent and an investor, Mindy LOVES real estate. She has taken part in syndications, private lending, and deals involving seller financing. She owns a single family rental, a short-term rental, a mobile home park, a co-working space, and her most recent purchase—a caboose!

Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.

Mindy has been featured on, CNBC’s Make It, 60 Second Docs, as well as podcasts like Money Nerds, The FI Show, Stacking Benjamins, and How to Be Awesome at Your Job.

Mindy is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado.

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Some areas of the country are growing exponentially faster than others. Where some cities have “For Rent” signs up almost continuously, other cities don’t even have time to plant a sign in the ground — the property is already rented.

In a study* out today, RealtyTrac took publicly recorded real estate data and compared it with monthly updated vacancy data from the U.S. Postal Service to come up with the Top 5 Most Vacant Cities, and the Top 5 Most Occupied Cities in the United States.

Related: The 10 US Markets With the Biggest Rent Increases & Decreases in 2015

Top 5 Most Vacant Cities

In a result that should surprise no one, Flint, MI and Detroit, MI rank #1 and #2 on the list of most vacant cities — and the recent lead-in-the-water crisis hasn’t even had time to affect the vacancy rate. Looks like Josh called Detroit.

Top 5 Most Vacant Cities

Top 5 LEAST Vacant Cities

For anyone who has been paying attention to real estate, the first city on this list is a no-brainer. San Jose — home to Google, Apple, Facebook, and all those other tech companies whose websites you use every day — tops the list of places where there is no vacancy.

I have a friend who lives in San Francisco, and any time there is an apartment advertised for rent, hundreds of people show up with cash in hand in the hopes they can get a place to live.

Related: 3 Factors to Study in Your Market BEFORE Buying an Investment Property

Second on the least vacant cities may come as a surprise — Fort Collins, CO. I am not at all surprised by this because Fort Collins is a delightful college town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I just helped a retail client buy a house in the city (we close on Friday), and every single time we went to see a house, I would get a note from the listing agent letting me know they already had 2, 5, or 11 offers on the property, so if we wanted to make an offer, we needed to do it that night.

One important statistic to note is that with almost 85 million residential properties nationwide, the vacancy rate is down 9.3% from Q3 2015.

“With several notable exceptions, the challenge facing most U.S. real estate markets is not too many vacant homes but too few,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The razor-thin vacancy rates in many markets are placing upward pressure on home prices and rents. While that may be good news for sellers and landlords, it is bad news for buyers and renters and could be bad news for all if prices and rents are inflated above tolerable affordability thresholds.”

Top 5 Least Vacant Cities

*RealtyTrac matched its address-level property data for nearly 85 million U.S. residential properties — including foreclosure status, owner-occupancy status, and equity — against monthly updated data from the U.S. Postal Service indicating whether a property had been flagged as vacant by the postal carrier. Only metropolitan statistical areas with at least 100,000 residential properties were included in the rankings.

Investors: Do any of these statistics surprise you? What are you seeing in YOUR market?

Let me know with a comment!

Some areas of the country are growing exponentially faster than others. Where some cities have “For Rent” signs up almost continuously, other cities don’t even have time to plant a […]