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Tampa Bay has the third highest percentage of vacant homes

The Tampa Bay area ranks third among the nation's 50 largest metro areas in the percentage of vacant households, exceeded only by the Miami and Orlando areas.

Lending Tree, an online lending company, found that 15.25 percent of bay are homes are vacant compared to 16 percent in Orlando and 17 percent in Miami. One of the main reasons the rates are so high is that all three areas are popular vacation destinations and many homes are occupied only part of the year, the company said.

Among the metro areas that have high vacancy rates for "negative reasons," like sluggish economic growth, are New Orleans, Memphis, Tenn. and Birmingham, Ala. San Jose, Calif. had the lowest vacancy rate at 4.26 percent.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.