State of Vacancy in Michigan (2020)

General Trends in Residential Vacancy and Distressed Properties

Author(s): Center for Community Progress

Michigan towns, cities, and counties have stood at the forefront of facing America’s economic downturns and their lasting negative impacts in housing markets and the lives of people.

The State of Vacancy in Michigan 2020 Update shares the general trends in residential vacancy and distressed properties across Michigan’s counties and 25 cities experiencing the highest rates of residential vacancy.

From its response to industrial decline to the more recent mortgage foreclosure crisis and Great Recession, Michigan continues to provide important insights for communities across the United States. Following the end of the Great Recession, Michigan has seen some optimistic trends including a decline in property tax foreclosure (-57%) and a small decline in residential vacancy (-4%). Vacant and deteriorated properties, however, remain a significant challenge. This is true in many rural counties as well as some of the state’s most populated urban counties.

Together with Data Driven Detroit, the Center for Community Progress collected and analyzed housing data from a variety of sources. We examined non-seasonal vacant residential units and used property tax forfeiture and foreclosure, housing stock age, and housing units that lack adequate plumbing facilities to serve as distressed property indicators. We reviewed median home value and mortgage originations to help measure housing market strength. And we reviewed both owner- and renter-occupied housing cost burden to understand financial hardship. This report builds on the foundation and methodology from our 2014 report State of Vacancy in Michigan available at

Madison Gharghoury, Development Associate and Special Assistant to the President/CEO

Published: December 2020


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