New U.S. Census Bureau estimates released this month depict changes in housing vacancies across the nation's metro areas. While the picture didn’t change much nationally, several regions experienced notable changes last year.

The Census Bureau reports 11.3 percent of the total housing inventory – both rentals and owner-occupied properties – within metro areas were vacant in 2017.

Pittsburgh recorded the largest drop (-4.1 percentage points) last year after its gross vacancy rate jumped in 2016. The Hartford, Conn., and Virginia Beach, Va., regions saw similar declines.

Six metro areas registered annual increases that were statistically significant.

Toledo’s gross vacancy rate ticked up 4.5 percentage points for the year, the largest increase nationally. The Los Angeles and Denver metro areas also saw their rates increase slightly, although they were relatively low to begin with.

A total of 25 other areas recorded small year-over-year increases that did not exceed the margin of error.

 

 

Greater vacancies aren’t necessarily indicative of a lack of demand for housing. New units going on the market could push up vacancy rates as well, for instance.

The national gross vacancy rate peaked during the Great Recession and has since slowly declined. Two other Census measures – rental and homeowner vacancy rates – have fluctuated little in recent years.

 

 

On a regional basis, the data suggest vacancy rates are typically highest in the South and lowest in California and the western U.S. Of the 75 regions with reported data, the two with by far the most vacancies were hard hit in the bursting of the housing bubble: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (39.1 percent) and nearby North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla. (28.3 percent) 

Metro Area Gross Vacancy Rates

 

The Census Bureau reports annual estimates of the gross vacancy rate for the following 75 metro areas:

Metro Area 2016 2016 Error (+/-) 2017 2017 Error (-/+) % Point Change
Akron, OH 10.4 2.5 8.8 2.8 -1.6
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 11.8 2.3 10.5 2.6 -1.3
Albuquerque, NM 9.2 1.3 8.9 1.3 -0.3
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 7.4 2.1 9.5 2.8 2.1
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 9.7 0.8 8.9 1.0 -0.8
Austin-Round Rock, TX 8.2 1.5 10.4 1.8 2.2
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 12.8 1.5 12.2 1.6 -0.6
Baton Rouge, LA 12.3 2.6 13.6 2.1 1.3
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 16.7 2.5 15.6 2.0 -1.1
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 7.8 0.8 7.6 0.8 -0.2
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 8.6 2.0 9.3 2.3 0.7
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY 11.6 2.0 12.4 2.5 0.8
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 38.5 3.8 39.1 4.3 0.6
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC 14.8 3.0 16.5 3.0 1.7
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 7.7 1.3 6.9 1.3 -0.8
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 8.6 0.7 8.4 0.7 -0.2
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 9.2 1.3 8.4 1.5 -0.8
Cleveland-Elyria, OH 11.1 1.5 9.2 1.6 -1.9
Columbia, SC 10.2 2.5 11.0 2.3 0.8
Columbus, OH 8.0 1.3 6.6 1.5 -1.4
Dallas-Ft Worth-Arlington, TX 7.9 0.8 7.8 0.8 -0.1
Dayton, OH 12.0 2.6 11.1 2.8 -0.9
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 6.4 1.0 7.8 1.3 1.4
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI0 8.3 1.0 8.1 1.0 -0.2
Fresno, CA 6.2 2.0 4.0 1.6 -2.2
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 7.1 1.8 8.5 2.3 1.4
Greensboro-High Point, NC 10.9 2.5 10.2 2.5 -0.7
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 13.4 2.0 10.1 2.0 -3.3
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 8.6 0.8 9.3 1.0 0.7
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 9.1 1.5 10.9 1.6 1.8
Jacksonville, FL 14.5 2.0 12.5 2.1 -2.0
Kansas City, MO-KS 8.1 1.3 8.1 1.2 0.0
Knoxville, TN 10.6 2.5 11.2 2.3 0.6
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 11.8 1.2 12.6 1.3 0.8
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR 11.8 2.1 10.3 2.8 -1.5
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 5.0 0.5 6.3 0.7 1.3
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 7.6 1.6 7.3 1.6 -0.3
Memphis, TN-AR-MS 10.9 2.0 12.1 2.0 1.2
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 17.9 1.2 17.8 1.3 -0.1
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 6.5 1.3 7.9 1.8 1.4
Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 5.3 0.8 4.5 1.0 -0.8
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 6.6 1.3 6.2 1.3 -0.4
New Haven-Milford, CT 10.0 2.1 10.0 2.3 0.0
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 13.6 2.1 12.8 1.6 -0.8
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 10.3 0.5 10.7 0.7 0.4
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL 27.9 3.3 28.3 3.8 0.4
Oklahoma City, OK 11.9 1.8 11.1 1.6 -0.8
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 6.9 1.3 5.9 1.2 -1.0
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL0 13.2 1.6 14.3 2.0 1.1
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 9.3 0.8 8.6 1.0 -0.7
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 13.9 1.2 13.7 1.3 -0.2
Pittsburgh, PA 17.7 1.6 13.6 1.8 -4.1
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 6.7 1.2 6.4 1.0 -0.3
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 11.1 0.8 11.3 1.0 0.2
Raleigh, NC 6.8 1.6 8.0 2.0 1.2
Richmond, VA 6.9 1.6 9.1 2.1 2.2
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 14.8 1.3 16.2 1.5 1.4
Rochester, NY 7.9 1.8 8.5 2.1 0.6
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 8.6 1.3 7.5 1.5 -1.1
Salt Lake City, UT 5.4 1.2 5.0 1.2 -0.4
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 9.9 1.5 9.9 1.6 0.0
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 7.5 1.0 6.4 1.2 -1.1
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 6.0 0.8 6.0 1.0 0.0
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 6.1 1.3 6.0 1.5 -0.1
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 5.6 0.8 6.0 1.0 0.4
St Louis, MO-IL 9.5 1.2 9.2 1.3 -0.3
Syracuse, NY 12.0 2.6 13.0 3.3 1.0
Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 16.1 1.5 16.2 1.6 0.1
Toledo, OH 9.1 2.5 13.6 3.6 4.5
Tucson, AZ 15.6 2.5 13.8 2.6 -1.8
Tulsa, OK 8.6 1.8 10.2 1.8 1.6
Urban Honolulu, HI 13.7 1.5 13.9 1.3 0.2
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC0 12.0 1.8 9.4 2.0 -2.6
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 8.2 0.8 7.4 1.0 -0.8
Worcester, MA 8.6 2.1 8.2 2.0 -0.4

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, February 27, 2018. See data methodology and definitions