Optimistic occupancy rates in Maricopa


A lower-than-expected home vacancy rate in Maricopa gives the city reason to be optimistic, according to one economist.

In 2000, the city had 3,216 housings units; in 2010, it had 17,240. About 17 percent of those homes are vacant, according to data from the United States Census.

That number is lower than Valley cities Mesa, Surprise and Scottsdale, all of which have vacancy rates in the 18- to 19-percent range.

“I would have expected Maricopa to have a much higher vacancy rate, somewhere around 20 percent,” said Jim Rounds, Senior Vice President with Elliot D. Pollack and Company.  “This tells me the city is doing better than expected, and has a much smaller housing inventory than expected.”

While the city’s numbers are low compared to some Valley cities, they are even more anemic when compared to other cities across Pinal County.

Pinal County as a whole has a vacancy rate of 21 percent, with some cities much higher. The vacancy rates in several Pinal County cites are: Florence, 36 percent; Apache Junction, 31 percent; Arizona City and Casa Grande, 21 percent; and Eloy 19 percent.

“When you look at the time to commute, and quality of workforce, the city of Maricopa more closely represents Maricopa County cities,” Rounds said.

Maricopa official Paul Jepson, assistant to the city manager, said he thought the census data was a little high. “We were expecting a vacancy rate around 12 percent,” he said.

Jepson based those numbers on data received from utility companies, the post office and other entities.

Despite the numbers being slightly higher than the city projected, they are a big improvement from the numbers that came out of a special census the city conducted in 2005.

At that time it was determined 22 percent of the properties in Maricopa were vacant.

Jepson said that a reason for that high rate was counting new homes that were not ready to move into as vacant.

Despite the lower-than-expected vacancy rate in Maricopa, Rounds said he wasn’t optimistic on the whole about Arizona filling vacant homes in the immediate future.

Arizona county vacancy rates