Flint, Detroit, and this NJ area are among the worst in U.S. for vacancies
In one out of every 27 or so Atlantic City residences, nobody's home.
The residential vacancy rate in Atlantic City is among the worst in the nation, just a few notches down from Detroit and Flint, Mich., according to an analysis by RealtyTrac released Thursday.
It's part of a report that says nationwide, nearly 1.6 percent of all residential properties with one to four units were vacant at the beginning of February — meaning 1.3 million homes nationwide are unfilled. That figure is actually a 9 percent improvement over the site's last analysis in the third quarter of 2015.
“With several notable exceptions, the challenge facing most U.S. real estate markets is not too many vacant homes but too few,” Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said.
But Atlantic City is among those "notable exceptions," in the top five for vacancies among metropolitan statistical areas with at least 100,000 properties.
Those with the highest share: Flint, Michigan (7.5 percent); Detroit (5.3 percent); Youngstown, Ohio (4.4 percent); Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (3.8 percent); and Atlantic City (3.7 percent).
Flint is, of course, the home of a major water quality crisis that's resulted in dangerously elevated lead levels in children' blood, and that may be connected to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that has killed 10 children.
Detroit continues to have an unemployment rate in excess of 10 percent after a years-long economic crisis, and was the city to file the largest municipal bankruptcy case in history in 2013. According to Census Bureau reports, its population has declied form about 1.8 million in the 1950s to just about 700,000 in 2013.
Atlantic City is reportedly months or even weeks away from running out of cash, in the midst of a sharp economic spiral that has included the closure of four casinos. Takeover legislation backed by both Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney has yet to get off the ground.
RealityTrac said other major metro areas with vacancy rates above the national average include Indianapolis (3.0 percent), Tampa (2.9 percent), Miami (2.8 percent), Cleveland (2.8 percent), and St. Louis (2.6 percent).
According to RealityTrac, overall, markets are doing well — for sellers.
“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," Blomquist said.
No new Jersey area made the site's list of metro areas with the lowest share of vacant properties: San Jose, Calif. (0.2 percent); Fort Collins, Col. (0.2 percent); Manchester, N.H. Hampshire (0.3 percent); Provo, Utah (0.3 percent); Lancaster, Pa. (0.3 percent); and San Francisco (0.3 percent).
Nationally, investment properties account for three-quarters of all vacant homes, the site said.
Vacant “zombie” foreclosures were down 4 percent nationwide, up in a minority of markets — but New Jersey's among the minority.
States with the biggest increase in zombie foreclosures from a year ago included Massachusetts (up 167 percent), Oklahoma (up 89 percent), Michigan (up 71 percent), Arizona (up 52 percent), and New Jersey (up 49 percent), the site said.