LendingTree Ranking Shows Improvements Needed | Journal-news

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Many of us have heard stories of booming, seller-friendly housing markets across the country. Put a house on the market and it’s bought at twice the price before a “for sale” sign is driven all the way to the ground…or something.

But a closer look at LendingTree’s numbers tells a more disparate story. Yes, the market is hot in some states. In others, the demand is considerably less. The online lender looked at the number of vacant homes in each state and found that West Virginia has the fourth highest vacancy rate in the nation, at 18.12% of our 896,570 homes. Such a high rate could mean several things. Homes may be on the market, used as vacation homes, or simply abandoned or uninhabitable.

In theory, this means homes on the market could be more affordable than those in some tighter markets. According to LendingTree, median home prices in the 10 states with the highest vacancy rates are on average about $168,000 lower than those in the 10 states with the lowest vacancy rates. In the Mountain State, the median home value is $130,000 — the lowest in the nation by nearly $5,000.

And yet, there are too many people for whom the median home value in West Virginia is prohibitive; and there are too many vacant houses. It’s a symptom of two of our state’s greatest ills – families living in poverty; and families who left the state for better opportunities elsewhere.

Many local communities are now discussing how to spend money as we may never see it pouring into public coffers again. If we hope to reverse the trends, communities will have to work together to improve the quality of life; and the employment and educational opportunities that attract and retain families here. Numbers such as those presented by LendingTree remind us that it is our responsibility to ask ourselves if our public works – spending OUR taxes – benefit as many residents as possible.