Census shows Maricopa Co. leads in number of vacant homes

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PHOENIX -- You may be one of thousands of people in Maricopa County living next to an empty home. Be it foreclosed or for sale, Maricopa County has the highest number of vacant homes among to the country's 10 most populated counties.

After 13 years on the same block of North Phoenix, the Carter Family is looking to sell.

"My husband couldn't find a job here, so he's living in another state and we have our house on the market because we have to be together as a family," Angie Carter explained

And as if she didn't know the housing market was already a mess, she has proof sitting right across the street. Neighbors say that home has sat empty for the last few years. It's one of 227,000 homes in Maricopa County counted as empty in 2010 census. That's 14 percent of all homes in Maricopa County, and almost as many empty homes as in Tuscon.

We asked Realtor Tiffany Young for her thoughts on the numbers. She thought they were high.

"Arizona is a hot vacation destination, and if they've included vacant homes or second homes as non-homeowner occupied in the report, it just really skews the numbers quite a bit," she explained.

Still, there are homes that sit, and it's often blamed on the slow processing of paperwork, but there are problems when a property's ignored.

"We try to encourage everyone to at least try and clean the pool up, keep utilities on, keep things operational because we are going to get a higher market value," Young said.

The family next door says that didn't happen here.

"The pool turned green and we had to call the city to come and take care of that," Ronda Updegraff said.

That's what can come with living next to a house waiting to be a home.

"In a way I don't blame them, but I don't like that all the other neighbors have to suffer from it," Updegraff said.