Florida Homes Empty as Housing Market Tumbles in Some Cities

Florida’s Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area has the highest share of rental homes sitting vacant in the entire country, according to recent research from Construction Coverage.

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The report, which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, found that an average 15.3 percent of rental homes in Cape Coral-Fort Myers were vacant in 2023, up from 8 percent the year before. The median monthly rent in the metro area had also risen from $1,708 in 2022 to $1,967 in 2023, as the percentage of renters that are cost-burdened rose from 56 percent to 59.3 percent.

Within the same period, the percentage of households renting in Cape Coral-Fort Myers dropped from 26.5 percent to 21.5 percent, a decrease which can partially explain the rise in rental home vacancy in the metro area.

Florida For Rent Sign Home
A home for rent in Miami, Florida. The state’s Cape Coral-Fort Myers area has the highest rental vacancy rates in the country, according to a Redfin report.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

At the same time, the nationwide rental vacancy rate was 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2024—below the historical average of 7.3 percent. The rental market is cooling off across the entire country, but, while prices have decreased since their peak in the third quarter of 2023, rent remains generally higher than many can afford.

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Among the top 25 metro areas with the highest rental vacancy rates were also Jacksonville, Florida (11th with a share of 9.4 percent), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida (20th with a share of 8.5 percent) and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida (23rd with a share of 8.4 percent).

Higher vacancy rates can generally be found in southern and midwestern states, according to the report, while western and northeastern states have the lowest shares of empty rental homes. This is due to the fact that western and northeastern states have a lower supply of rental units, while demand remains high.

It’s no surprise then that Florida, one of the states that, together with Texas, has been building the highest numbers of new homes in the country in recent years, is seeing higher vacancy rates as inventory grows.

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A recent Redfin report found that housing markets on Florida’s west coast are cooling faster than any other in the country, with North Port reporting a price fall of 6.6 percentage points in April compared to a year earlier—the biggest drop in the country.

It was followed by two other Florida metros, Tampa and Cape Coral, which recorded price drops of 8 percentage points and 4.6 percentage points respectively within the same period.

“Florida home prices had been going up from 2020-2023 quite rapidly, so Florida is due for a correction,” Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist, told Newsweek in a written statement. “The rising cost of living in Florida is also discouraging migration, and high interest rates are dampening the market broadly.”

Uncommon Knowledge

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.