Nearly 20% of Florida homes are vacant.
March 18, 2011.
It's not always easy to feel sorry for sunny Florida. But they just got hit with another blow.
On Thursday, the Census Bureau revealed that 18% -- or 1.6 million -- of the Sunshine State's homes are sitting vacant. That's a rise of more than 63% over the past 10 years.
Having this amount of oversupply on the market will keep home prices depressed and slow any recovery.
During the housing boom, Florida was among the hottest real estate markets in the nation. Homes were snapped up by the state's growing population as well as hordes of investors confident that prices would continue to soar.
"You'd drive through downtown Miami and see 30 or 40 cranes sticking up in the air," said Michael Larson, a housing market analyst for Weiss Research.
The bust brought an end to that. Development ground to a halt. Retirees stopped relocating. And prices started falling and vacancies rising.
Not helping is the fact that the state's rate of population growth slowed in the second half of the last decade to just 5.7%.