A new housing report for March, 2011 was just released showing that there is a very large number of homes in the US that are vacant. Although there is normally a good number of homes somewhere around 7 to 10 percent that can be vacant for a short period of time and others that remain vacant for extended periods due to blighted neighborhood conditions this new report shows that the largest percentage of homes are in areas that did not have a history of vacancies.
Figures showing a 12.8% average for the USA with many states having higher vacant homes has market annalists predicting a longer then expected return to normalcy. Although many had been hopeful that conditions would turn around in the next four to five years that has now been extended to ten years or more.
Maine had the highest proportion of empty housing stock, at 23% with many other states reporting higher then average numbers including Vermont 21%, Florida 18%, Arizona 16% and Alaska 16%.
However these figures have to be taken with a grain of salt because in some cases they were compiled by using Census figures which list second homes which are often vacation homes as unoccupied. For this reason some states that showed a higher then normal vacant home rate need to be recalculated and figures should be reported as homes that are unoccupied and not vacant.
However in some cities such as Sacramento California sections of vacant homes were in middle class areas where a dozen or more homes on a single street were vacant.
And when you look at Broward and Palm Beach Florida Counties which each have in the area of 130,000 vacant homes each you may believe that this is due to vacation homes however over 325,000 foreclosures were processed on homes in these counties in the past 5 years.
Many of the defaults in Florida were speculators or people who just lost more value then they could assume. At that point home owners have purposely let homes go into default and have walked away even though they could have continued making payments.
These strategic defaults have left many communities with a large number of vacant homes in close proximity and people who are interested in buying will not purchase in such areas because they are often high crime areas even when the community was previously safe.
Southern California has seen whole communities of brand new homes taken over by gangs and police in San Diego will not enforce laws in these locations.
However you look at it the value of homes will not be increasing any time soon so if you are in the market to buy you should submit a bid that takes into account the real value of the home or the price you could ask for it and not what a bank or individual is asking.
If there is good value then you should expect to pay a decent price but by adjusting your location a few miles you may find houses that are valued well below market and with good reason. In this case you need to decide if you are willing to rebuild the community and pay a lower price.