Census Bureau: One in 9 housing units in Baltimore area is vacant

One in 9 housing units in the Baltimore region sat empty last year, from well-tended homes for sale to boarded-up shells, according to new estimates from the Census Bureau.

That's on the high side but not nearly the highest. The agency measured vacancy for the 75 largest metro areas -- not counting vacation properties shuttered in the off-season -- and says the Baltimore region is in a three-way tie with Chicago and Pittsburgh for the 26th worst rate. (It's 11.6 percent, to be exact.)

The city's vacancy woes are well-known, but the Census Bureau looked at metro areas as a whole. Locally, that includes the five counties around Baltimore in addition to the city.

So who's No. 1? The economically hard-hit Dayton, Ohio, with a vacancy rate of nearly 17 percent last year. Close behind is Las Vegas, housing-bubble region extraordinaire. Here's the full top 10:

1. Dayton (16.9 percent)

2. Las Vegas (16 percent)

3. Oklahoma City (14.8 percent)

4. (tie) Buffalo, N.Y. (14.5 percent)

4. (tie) Tampa, Fla. (14.5 percent)

6. Jacksonville, Fla. (14.1 percent)

7. Orlando, Fla. (14 percent)

8. Akron, Ohio (13.8 percent)

9. (tie) Birmingham, Ala. (13.7 percent) -- check out this story about the area's bankruptcy woes

9. (tie) Memphis, Tenn. (13.7 percent)

Here's an earlier piece about growth in local vacancy as measured by the 2010 Census.

Today's figures come from the bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey. According to those estimates, the homeowner vacancy rate -- just empty homes for sale -- was 2.8 percent in the Baltimore region last year. That's the highest it's been since 1995, when it hit 3.2 percent.

Are you seeing more or fewer vacant homes near you?

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