TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The United States has a current population of 332,891,550, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population clock. Florida alone has more than 22 million residents in 2022. Population, builder confidence, home prices and vacancies, and out-of-town buyers all add to the challenge of finding homes for Floridians.

According to analysis of residential unit vacancies by Clever Real Estate, three Florida cities top the list of most vacant housing units per population size.

The three cities, Orlando, Miami, and Tampa, were ranked based on their available housing units as compared to total number vacant, as well as the vacancy rate for rentals and homes for sale. Clever’s analysis was based on data provided by the Census Bureau. The analysis itself was published by Anytime Estimate, a company owned by Clever.

While three cities in Florida filled the top three spots, Jacksonville also broke into the top 10 cities for vacancy rates. All of the Florida cities in the top 10 had higher rates than the national average.

Rank Location Rental Vacancy Rate Total Housing Units Total Occupied Vacant Units Homeowner Vacancy Rental Vacancy
United States11.6%138,432,751122,354,21916,078,5321.4%5.8%
1Orlando, FL15.27%1,054,209893,257160,9523.1%9.7%
2Miami, FL14.75%2,548,7672,172,740376,0271.7%6.4%
3Tampa, FL13.71%1,436,2971,239,349196,9481.9%6.9%
4Birmingham, AL13.23%487,435422,92664,5091.4%8.1%
5New Orleans, LA13.1%559,877486,50973,3681.5%7.5%
6Riverside, CA12.13%1,566,4421,376,503189,9391.6%4.2%
7Jacksonville, FL11.87%656,551578,62077,9311.9%6.3%
8Las Vegas, NV11.34%912,465809,026103,4391.8%8%
9Memphis, TN11.3%569,954505,54464,4101.1%8%
10Phoenix, AZ10.22%1,943,8131,745,219198,5941.5%5%
(Source: Anytime Estimate, owned by Clever Real Estate)

Even with more than 16 million homes sitting empty in the U.S., and roughly 1.7 million in Florida as of March, high prices and high interest rates are making both renting and buying harder goals to achieve for Americans, pushing the chance of becoming homeless closer.

The difference between means and inventory is starting to affect builder confidence too, according to a new report from the National Association of Home Builders. The report said that builder confidence can serve as a predictor for market problems.

“Production bottlenecks, rising home building costs and high inflation are causing many builders to halt construction because the cost of land, construction and financing exceeds the market value of the home,” NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a home builder and developer from Savannah, Ga., said. “In another sign of a softening market, 13% of builders in the HMI survey reported reducing home prices in the past month to bolster sales and/or limit cancellations.”

The NAHB’s chief economist, Robert Dietz, said affordability remains the “greatest challenge” for the housing market, particularly as “significant segments of the home buying population are priced out of the market. Policymakers must address supply-side issues to help builders produce more affordable housing.”

The lack of affordability is coming as a result of higher supply costs for materials, supply chain disruptions, and a historically low housing inventory. Pushing those prices up is now also affecting builder confidence, even as the costs of materials like lumber start to decrease.

Another issue affecting home availability for Americans, especially in Florida, is the number of homes bought by foreign buyers. A National Association of Realtors report showed the Sunshine State has been a popular residential market for international buyers for years. It’s kept the highest percentage of home purchases by foreigners every year since 2009, according to the data provided by NAR.

While the overall number of foreign home purchases declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, getting as low as 98,600 in March 2022, the actual financial volume rose to $59 billion. The largest group of buyers came from Latin America, according to NAR, and the place they wanted to buy in most was Florida.

“Florida remained the major destination, with a higher foreign buyer share of 24%,” NAR reported. California was the second highest destination, taking 11% of the buyers. The report also said foreign buyers who are already living in the U.S. purchased a “mix of properties” which ended up more expensive than those bought by others living abroad.

All of these home purchases, whether for vacation homes, rental properties, or primary residences, still add to the current shortage hitting American families looking to buy a house or find somewhere affordable to live. Housing costs, the price of shelter as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, remain higher than pervious years.

High inflation rates, 9.1% nationally as of June, were driven up by fuel and housing prices. The BLS reported housing prices themselves were the highest they’d been in nearly 40 years. The Beracha and Johnson Housing Market Index, a Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University business study, shows how home prices have increased or decreased during the current market’s fluctuations.

Their data shows that in Florida, every market was experiencing a home price premium, with the Tampa Bay area showing elevated prices up to nearly 60% higher than a home’s actual value. Rental prices are also up, and have increased every month for more than a year. Similarly, the number of foreclosures across the nation is rising, and Florida is no exception, as the higher mortgage rates and generally high inflation shrinks the impact of wages across the U.S.