The 10 ‘Emptiest’ Housing Markets

Empty homes still plague a lot of cities across the country. In fact, since 2000, vacant properties have risen by about 43 percent nationwide, according to Census Bureau data. (Homes are defined as vacant by “unoccupied rental inventory” or homes unoccupied that are for-sale.) 

Vacant properties can affect home values nearby. For example, a study earlier this year found that a vacant home has the potential to decrease the value of nearby homes by at least 1.3 percent, according to the Cleveland Federal Reserve. In higher income neighborhoods, the impact can be even more drastic—possibly lowering nearby home prices by 4.6 percent. In low poverty areas, each additional vacant or tax delinquent home was found to reduce values of surrounding properties by between 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent.

The following are the six cities with the largest home owner and rental vacancies based on the last 12 months: 


1. Orlando, Fla.
Home owner vacancy rate: 2.2%
Rental vacancy rate: 18.8% 

The emptiest city in the United States is Orlando, Fla. The 12-month average for rental vacancies stands at a staggering 18.8 percent, while in the first quarter of 2012 this number was 22 percent, highest in the nation. Florida’s third largest city also has an above-average homeowner vacancy rate, but this metric has been rising during the past two quarters, according to Census Bureau data. Despite its housing woes, Orlando has been able to avoid the financial woes of other cities, such as Harrisburg, Pa., and San Bernardino and Stockton, California.


2. Dayton, Ohio
Home owner vacancy rate: 5.4%
Rental vacancy rate: 11.3%

The good news is that Dayton’s homeowner vacancy rate has been trending downward since its peak in the third quarter of 2011, when it stood at 6.5 percent. However, even this improving number gives Dayton the distinction of having the highest average homeowner vacancy rate in the country, according to the Census Data. And Dayton’s average rental vacancy rate, at 11.3 percent, is higher than the 75 city average of 9.2 percent. The Census Bureau calculations put Dayton’s gross vacancy rate at 16.9 percent, more than 6 percent above the large city average, and the highest in the country.


3. Memphis, Tenn.
Home owner vacancy rate: 3.1%
Rental vacancy rate: 15%

Memphis’s proportion of vacant homes, both owned and rentals, puts it third overall, thanks to an average rental vacancy rate of 15 percent that is the fifth highest in the nation and the 3.1 percent homeowner vacancy rate that ranks 13th.


4. Detroit
Home owner vacancy rate: 1.7%
Rental vacancy rate: 16.9%

Detroit was one of the hardest hit cities in the recession, and with an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent as of May, it’s little wonder that its 16.9 percent rental vacancy rate is the second highest in the country. Surprisingly, though, the homeowner vacancy rate remains below the 75 largest metro area’s average of 2.18 percent. According to the Census Bureau, at the end of 2011, Detroit had a gross vacancy rate of 12.2 percent, a level the city has virtually maintained since 2006.


5. Richmond, Va.
Home owner vacancy rate: 2.4%
Rental vacancy rate: 15.1%

With a rental vacancy rate of 15.1 percent, Virginia’s capital ranks fourth among all major U.S. cities for empty rentals over the past year, with the first quarter of 2012 showing a 19 percent rental vacancy rate. However, Richmond’s homeowner vacancy rate ranks only 27th among the country’s 75 largest metro areas, and stands just 0.2 percent higher than the average for large metro areas.


6. Las Vegas
Home owner vacancy rate: 3.9%
Rental vacancy rate: 11.9% 

Over the past five years, the Las Vegas housing market has experienced one of the country’s most dramatic boom-and-bust cycles. The city continues to feel the pain. At the end of 2011, Las Vegas ranked second in the country for gross vacancy rates, at 16 percent, and currently has an unemployment rate of 11.8 percent. In the past 12 months, Las Vegas’ rental vacancy rates have dropped from a high of 13.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to a low of 11 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the most recent number available. Although Las Vegas remains one of the most vacant U.S. cities, homeowner vacancies are a bright spot, dropping from 5.5 percent over the past year to 2.3 percent in the most recent quarter.


7. Atlanta
Homeowner vacancy rate: 4.2 percent
Rental vacancy rate: 11.3 percent

Atlanta’s average homeowner vacancy rate is the third-highest among major U.S. cities, standing at 4.2 percent. Fortunately for Atlanta, the rate has been dropping since early 2011, when it stood at 5.4 percent. The trend for rental vacancies has been worse for Atlanta, however, rising from 9.4 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 12.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012.


8. Houston
Homeowner vacancy rate: 1.9 percent
Rental vacancy rate: 15.5 percent

Houston is home to the nation’s third-highest rental vacancy rate over the past 12 months, standing at 15.5 percent. The city hit a three-year high for rental vacancies in 2009, when the rate rose to 18.4 percent in the third quarter of that year, according to Census Bureau data. However, Houston’s homeowner vacancy rate has been recovering, dropping below the average for the 75 largest cities for the past three quarters to as low as 1.1 percent at the end of 2011.


9. Tampa, Fla.
Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.2 percent
Rental vacancy rate: 12.8 percent

It’s no secret that the Florida real estate market has seen better times — and the situation in Tampa appears to be getting worse. In May, RealtyTrac reported that foreclosure activity in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area rose by nearly 111 percent from May 2011, with one home in every 304 in foreclosure. The rental vacancy market has been following this downward trend, with the rental vacancy rate going up or remaining flat every quarter since the beginning of 2011.


10. Toledo, Ohio
Homeowner vacancy rate: 3.8 percent
Rental vacancy rate: 11.5 percent

Of the 75 largest U.S. cities in the first quarter of 2012, Toledo recorded the highest rate for homeowner vacancies, at 5.6 percent. However, in three of the past four quarters listed by the Census Bureau, that rate has hovered between 3 and 3.6 percent, significantly bringing down the city’s 12 month average, and its overall ranking in this list. Regardless, the 3.8 percent 12 month average still ranks Toledo as the fifth highest in the country for homeowner vacancies alone.

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Council seeks scaled-down plan for Lower Hesse Park

Basketball and tennis courts may be out and more picnic area in when it comes to planned improvements to the lower portion of Hesse Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.

On July 17, the city council instructed city staff to draft a scaled-down version of the park improvement plans after hearing testimony from residents opposed to the athletic courts.

However, the council also called for keeping the courts in an environmental review of the plan to give the city the option to construct them if it chooses to.

“We would be looking at a worst case environmentally,” said Eduardo Schonborn, a senior planner for the city. “It’s a lot easier to evaluate the most we might do and then reduce it later.”

The council authorized $63,628 for an environmental review called a mitigated negative declaration. A total of $56,882 of that amount has already been paid to the environmental consulting firm Willdan Engineering for technical studies, including a traffic impact analysis, noise assessment, gnatcatcher survey and a biological assessment of the planned improvements.

The plan is called the Pacific Plan to differentiate it from another option the council considered when it first directed city staff to develop a scenario for park improvements in November of 2010. In addition to the basketball and tennis courts, the Pacific Plan includes improvements to the existing trail system, landscaping, picnic benches, repair of a pedestrian bridge and the establishment of lawn spaces.

Council members voted to direct staff to develop a scaled-down version of the plan after hearing testimony from several residents, including Pacific View Homeowners Association President John Freeman, who has lived near the park for three decades.

“We have all along advocated for passive recreation improvements in the lower part of the park,” Freeman said this week. “That was how the park was originally designed more than 30 years ago, with active recreation in the upper park and passive in the lower.”

The upper section of Hesse Park includes a field used for both baseball and soccer, a playground, a community center (where the council meets), picnic benches and a looped walking path.

Freeman said that the homeowners association objected to the courts because fencing and trees would block ocean views and the pouring of so much concrete would spoil the park’s natural ambiance. Instead, the association would like to see an expanded grassy picnic area.

“There is an understanding that the park needs improvements,” he said. “It just doesn’t need to be done with overdevelopment.”

Freeman said the neighbors are not opposed to more people using the park, and in fact would like to see the area made more enjoyable for families looking to have a picnic, take a walk or enjoy the sunset.

Freeman also pointed out that construction of the project, which is currently unfunded, will be less expensive without the courts. The city staff report stated that the Pacific Plan would cost $2,770,041. Taking the courts out of the plan would save $120,000, according to the report.

To develop the scaled-down plan, Freeman and other members of the community will work with city staff, including Katie Howe, administrative analyst for the city’s Recreation and Parks department.

Howe said the city has heard from residents who want both active and passive recreational amenities at the park. She did not completely rule out the inclusion of the basketball and tennis courts.

“Nothing is really set in stone until we sit down and talk,” Howe said.

Two years ago, 866 residents responded to a city survey regarding proposed improvements at the park, which at that time included a possible dog park and more sports fields.

Fifty-eight percent of those responding voted for walking trails, while 77 and 75 percent opposed tennis and basketball courts, respectively. More than 68 percent were against a dog park.

Senior planner Schonborn said that as the Recreation and Parks staff works on the scaled-down plan, the consultant will finish the environmental report, which will then be posted for public comment for 30 days before being presented to the city council for review.

If the council were to approve the environmental report and the design plan, it would then have to identify funding for the park and prioritize it on the city’s list of unfunded projects.

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Peninsula High Schools Validictorian Meets the President!!!

After receiving his diploma at Peninsula High School’s graduation ceremony last week, Valedictorian David Wang prepared for a trip to Washington, D.C. He is one of 141 students in the country selected as a 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholar, one of the nation’s highest honors that can be bestowed upon a high school student. Wang and his fellow Scholars will be honored during a reception in Washington on June 16.

During a three-day trip, the scholars will meet President Barack Obama and other dignitaries, and will have a chance to mingle among themselves.

“It’s an amazing honor to meet the president,” Wang told the News, “and I’m pretty excited to meet my fellow Presidential Scholars. They are the best of the brightest students in the country.”

More than 3,300 students nationwide qualified for the award this year. After his invitation to apply for the award and the comprehensive selection process that followed, Wang learned in May that he had been named a Presidential Scholar, one of six from California.

While four of the California scholars were recognized for their accomplishments in the arts, Wang and a second scholar were chosen for their achievements in academics.

“He has an innate drive to aim big, whether he is working to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, to earn the position of top scorer in Academic Decathlon, to head a winning Model UN debate team or to merit first place in an essay contest,” said Jill Verenkoff, an English teacher at Peninsula High School. “David is an old soul who is driven by the internal motivation to learn, to achieve and to excel in highly diverse areas.”

The Harvard-bound freshman has juggled a strenuous academic load — advanced placement classes, captain of the Academic Decathlon team for two years (recently leading the first team from Peninsula in decades to the state competition) — and a hefty volunteer schedule.

To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, Wang spent a number of hours two years ago leading a project at George F Canyon, including refurbishing areas of the preserve, making trail markers and building benches. He also volunteers at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Wilmington as a patient liaison, helping to make patients feel comfortable and playing the violin for them.

Wang also works as a student researcher in the department of molecular cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. There, he’s helping to conduct research on genetically engineered bacteria.

He got the position at UCLA after his work last summer in a young scholars program at the University of California, Davis, also helping with research.

“It’s a six-week program in which they pair up students with various faculty members from UC Davis … and at the end you present the research you did over the six weeks at a symposium. I used my experience there, my credentials, to get this position at UCLA. I’m really thankful to have that opportunity.”

He hasn’t settled on a major at Harvard yet, but Wang said he wants to study in some field of biology, his favorite area of science.

“There’s a concentration at Harvard called human regenerative biology that sounds really interesting; if not that, maybe biomedical engineering,” he said.

Although Wang’s interest lies in science, it was Verenkoff, his English teacher, who inspired his him most during his high school career.

“The impact she’s had on my growth as a student and as a person cannot really be overstated. I can honestly say that she taught me to write. Not just to write, but to write fairly well,” he said.

Within today’s highly structured curriculum standards, Verenkoff has created an environment that was open and creative. Students are not confined by limited means of expression and ways of learning, Wang said.

“She’s more than a teacher; she’s a mentor to many students,” Wang said.

This is the second consecutive year Verenkoff has been selected as the most influential teacher by a Presidential Scholar. David Tang-Quan, a 2011 Peninsula graduate and the school’s first Presidential Scholar, chose her as well.

“Being named the most influential teacher by a Presidential Scholar award recipient two years in a row has left me dumbfounded,” Verenkoff said. “Peninsula High School has so many extraordinary counselors, teachers and administrators that I cannot fathom why I was singled out. I do know that teaching is in my blood, an internal calling that, at the end of my career, has left me with great satisfaction.”

Verenkoff, Wang said, helped guide him through “the complexities of the academic demands.”

“Students are forced to juggle ever-increasing amounts of school work and extracurricular activities,” he said. “Maybe there needs to be a paradigm shift in how we view accomplishments and achievements among students, especially teenagers who are expected to accomplish amazing things, things that a few decades ago would be unthinkable.”

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Rolling Hills Estates City Council Approves Skate Park!!!!

The Rolling Hills Estates City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to allocate land for a permanent skate part at Ernie Howlett Park as part of its master use plan.

“This is the culmination of three years of work by Skatepark PV Inc.,” said an elated Ellen November, founder and director of the nonprofit organization. “From the beginning, with the inclusion of BeachSports skateboard camps, RHE has been open to a new active recreation outlet for its residents.”

Skateboarding is a multibillion-dollar business, and a legion of local kids skate. The problem is, the cities on the Hill do not provide a place for them to skateboard safely.

November started Skatepark PV three years ago after witnessing kids flip over concrete curbs, slide down steel handrails in front of stores and schools, speed down hills and jump homemade ramps. November felt it was the community’s duty to keep kids out of harm’s way and provide them with a proper place to skate.

“The PV News was kind enough to run the first story on my quest,” November said. “From there, Suzy Seamans, mayor of RHE, saw the article. As a grandmother of a skater, she was aware of how popular skateboarding is and wanted to be a part of building a park in our community. She was our first board member.”

Others soon joined November: Chris Strong, father of an 8-year-old skater; Julie Turner Tisue, executive director of the San Pedro and Peninsula YMCA; Charles Crouse, manager of facilities for the Palos Verdes Library District; Liz Cotton, mother of a teen skater; and Jim Maxwell, father of a 9-year old skater.

Cat Spydell, an RHE mother who had previously tried to get a park built, introduced November to pro-skater Kenny Anderson, who lives in Palos Verdes.

“Kenny’s expertise and enthusiasm has been invaluable to the project,” November said. “Kenny has skated parks all over the world. His expertise in skate park design will be invaluable as we enter the design phase.”

Besides hosting skating events for kids, the group began talking to city officials in RHE and Rancho Palos Verdes to find a location for a park.

After three years of meeting with both cities, November said the group found Skatepark’s mission most aligned with RHE.

“Ernie Howlett Park provides all the amenities we were looking for in a venue,” November said. “They have hosted BeachSports Skateboard camps for the past few years — which has been popular and a success — providing skateboard lessons for the novice and intermediate skater.”

The next step, November said, is fundraising; the estimated cost of the project is $400,000.

Skatepark PV will pay for the design and construction of a concrete skate plaza type park, and will cover the annual maintenance costs. The city will send out a Request for Proposals for a minimum of three bids.

“We will be soliciting corporate and private donations. … We do not have a commitment from any of the cities yet on them kicking in funds,” November said, “but it is open for discussion, and this park will be for all the residents of the Hill.”

Skatepark PV is a 501(c)3 nonprofit; donations are tax-deductible. To donate for the construction of a skate park at Ernie Howlett Park, visit

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Fresh & Easy Comes to Palos Verdes!!!

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has plans to open a store in Palos Verdes Estates, filling a spot left empty in August by the closure of longtime local fixture Lunada Bay Market.

The new grocer, at 2201 Palos Verdes Drive West, will be one of Fresh & Easy’s new Express mini-stores, which are about 3,000 square feet. That’s much less than the company’s traditional 10,000-square-foot locations.

“It’s a great spot, intersection-wise. A lot of access,” Wonnacott said. “It was a great fit with what we are trying to do with our Express concept.”

Express stores have about half the products of a traditional Fresh & Easy, with a focus on the grocer’s trademark grab-and-go products like prepared meals. The smaller stores also have a full selection of spices, meats and produce.

The new store will have about 20 employees, 10 less than usual.

On Wednesday, the store will present a $1,000 donation to Harbor Interfaith Services.

By Wednesday, Fresh & Easy will have 199 stores in California, Nevada and Arizona, with 154 of them in the Golden State, spokesman Brendan Wonnacott said.

The company, a subsidiary of British retail giant Tesco, has not announced how many more stores it will open this year.

The El Segundo-based grocery chain has stores in Torrance, San Pedro, Harbor City, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.

The company is currently negotiating a lease to open in downtown El Segundo in the former spot of Cooke’s Market, which closed in April and left that area with no full-service grocery store.

Tesco’s ambitious venture into the hyper-competitive American grocery market has been difficult. Its Fresh & Easy unit has been bleeding money each quarter since opening its first store in 2007.

In 2010, the chain announced it would temporarily “mothball” 13 stores until economic conditions in those areas improve.

At a recent Tesco shareholders meeting, some investors demanded the company give up on its money-losing American chain and focus on its profitable core businesses. Tesco is the world’s third-largest retailer.

Fresh & Easy has repeatedly revamped its product lineup to cater to discount-minded American customers during the tough economy.

And while initially vowing to never advertise – instead depending on direct community outreach such as newsletters – the company relented and now spends extensively on ads.

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Welcome to About PV


This new blog site will introduce you to the communities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It will cover Real Estate, Community Activities and Local News!

Here is a little more about Tuba Ghannadi…

She has been a resident of the South Bay since 1985. She sets herself apart by working vigorously in the real estate field selling and listing properties. Prior to real estate, Tuba received a Bachelors Degree in Biology, and a Masters Degree in Microbiology with Honors from the University of Bridgeport. Tuba has been married for over 30 years to Jim Ghannadi who works actively as a real estate agent as well. The couple have two sons, Navid and Neema. Navid has graduated from the University of San Francisco, after completing his MBA Degree. Neema has just graduated from Loyola Marymount Law School, with many aspirations in mind.

Tuba credits her success to the loyalty of her clients who she has represented over the years. Tuba takes an active role in assisting her clients with the various aspects of the real estate transaction. Her dedication, hard work, and caring approach have continuously placed her at the top 1% internationally since 1986.

Tuba has received many prestigious awards and recognitions throughout the 24+ years she has been in the real estate field. She is a member of the prestigious RE/MAX Hall of Fame and in the Top 100 RE/MAX agents in California and Hawaii. She has also ranked in the top 5 at all RE/MAX Palos Verdes for the past 5 years.

Awards & Achievements

Over 20 Years of Real Estate Experience
Member of the Exclusive RE/MAX Hall of Fame
Chairman Club Member
Prestigious Platinum Club Member
Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Board of Directors of RE/MAX International, Inc.
Certified Luxury Home Specialist
Certified Senior Citizen Specialist
Top 1% of All Agents Internationally
Palos Verdes Peninsula Specialist
Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI)
Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
Quality Service Certified (QSC)

License #: 00922882