Memphis Tops in Vacancy Rates

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If you want to know where the best rental prices are, follow the record-high rental vacancy rates.

Get to the home of Elvis Presley. For the second quarter of 2009, Memphis had the highest vacancy rate in the country.

While the U.S. Census Bureau doesn't list what rental rates are in the cities it surveys, its report on residential rental vacancies, along with related reports, show where rental vacancies are highest in the country, and could be a good lead to finding inexpensive rentals or housing rentals that could be more easily turned into home purchases for renters.
The national vacancy rate in the second quarter of 2009 was 10.6% for rental housing - the highest rate since the Census Bureau started recording the data in 1956.

Here are some of the metro areas where rental vacancy rates are the highest for the second quarter of 2009:

  • Memphis leads the nation at 25.8%
  • Birmingham-Hoover, Al, 22.7%.
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, 19.3%
  • New Orleans, LA, 18.9%
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA, 18.4%
  • Dayton, OH, 18.4%
  • Orlando, FL, 18.2%
  • Richmond, VA, 18.2%
  • Jacksonville, FL, 17.5%
For general areas of the country, the South had the worst vacancy rate at 13.8%, followed by the Midwest at 10.4%, West at 8.9% and Northeast at 7.1%.

The numbers from the Census Bureau include apartment complexes and single-family homes, and foreclosures could also be involved, depending on if the unit is for sale or rent.

Going to some of the more stressed parts of the country could lead to a better deal for renters, as landlords and homeowners facing foreclosure, or banks with properties already foreclosed, may be looking to sweeten the deal to buyers or people wanting to rent the vacant homes.

There are all kinds of ways to find your next rental, but this may be one way to find a better deal. And wherever you go, remember your renter's rights.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net

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