Vacant Doesn’t Always Mean Foreclosed Or Abandoned


A lot has been written about all those empty houses out there. We at Doom started noticing them beginning to pile up back in 2006. I was really shocked though when I read the following though:

American Ghost Towns Of The 21st Century

There are several counties in America, each with more than 10,000 homes, which have vacancy rates above 55%. The rate is above 60% in several.

Most people who follow unemployment and the housing crisis would expect high vacancy rates in hard-hit states including Nevada, Florida and Arizona. They were among the fastest growing areas from 2000 to 2010. Disaster struck once economic growth ended.

That’s a pretty shocking figure.  It’s bad enough that the national rate is over 10%.  There’s more to the story however.  For one thing, the article does acknowledge that “some of the affected regions are tourist destinations”, but says “The future of these areas is grim.”  So where are these “ghost towns”?

1.  Lake County, MI

2.  Vilas County, WI

3.  Summit County, CO

4.  Worchester County, MD

5.  Mono County, CA

6.  Dare County, NC

7.  Dukes County, MA

8.  Sawyer County, WI

9.  Burnett County, WI

10.  Aitkin County, MN

Not exactly the infamous “bubble” counties one would expect, are they?  This is because in large part, these are vacation areas which have traditionally had a high vacancy rate.  It makes those 50%+ numbers look a little less grim.

This isn’t to say that these areas are not hurting.  When people find themselves in financial difficulty, they will let the vacation property go before their primary residence.  These counties undoubtedly have many foreclosures and poor housing markets, but let’s be reasonable.

We’re not above reporting “doomish” statistics around here, but this is over the top.  Yes, there’s a lot of empty homes out there, but I’d like to see more meaningful reporting– like say current vacancy rate vs. historical rate.  They “hysterical” rate doesn’t tell us much.

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