Oregon Had Nation’s Lowest Rate of Vacant Homes in 2020

A new report from the National Association of Realtors shows part of the reason so many Oregonians are sleeping outside.

Oregon had the lowest home vacancy rate in the country in 2020, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data from the National Association of Realtors. Just 7.8% of the state’s homes were vacant in 2020. That’s one-third below the national average of 12% and vastly lower than states such as Vermont (23%), Maine (23%) and Alaska (21%).

There are two ways to look at Oregon’s position: “A low vacancy rate is considered positive for the market because it means that housing demand is high, and people want to live in that particular area; higher rates mean just the opposite,” writes NAR economist Nadia Evangelou.

It’s good for the state’s economy and tax base that people want to live in Oregon. But the downside, of course, is that the tightness of the market contributes to high rents and one of the nation’s highest rates of unsheltered homelessness.

Josh Lehner, a state economist who frequently blogs about home prices and apartment rents, reacted to the NAR report on Twitter with the same policy prescription he’s been recommending for years: “Build more housing.”