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articles about “Gayborhoods

Home Prices Rising Faster in Cities than in the Suburbs – Most of All in Gayborhoods

The suburbs may have faster population growth, but urban neighborhoods have faster home-price growth nationally and in 16 of the 20 Case-Shiller metros. Furthermore, home prices are climbing most steeply in high-rise neighborhoods and areas with large gay and lesbian populations.

Home prices have been climbing nationally for more than a year. The Trulia Price Monitor, Case-Shiller, and other price indexes show price gains for nearly all large metro areas. But within a metro, the city and the suburbs are often totally different housing markets.  In last decade’s housing bubble and bust, most of the overbuilding and foreclosures happened in the suburbs and outlying areas, but many downtowns are dotted with vacant buildings or even vacant blocks. Which areas are seeing a stronger recovery – cities or suburbs?

To answer this, we looked at (1) price gains, based on the change in median price per square foot among all non-foreclosure homes for sale on Trulia, and (2) population growth, based on the U.S. Postal Service’s count of occupied households in each ZIP code. Both measures are year-over-year, with prices through the end of May 2013 and population through mid-June 2013. We classify urban and suburban neighborhoods based on the kind of housing they have – urban neighborhoods are mostly condos, apartments, and townhouses, while suburbs have mostly detached, single-family homes – which we think is more accurate than using big-city boundaries (see note).

Urban Neighborhoods Have Stronger Price Recovery, but Slower Population Growth
Here’s the punch line: urban neighborhoods had faster price growth in the past year, while suburban neighborhoods had higher population growth. The median asking price per square foot was up 11.3% in urban neighborhoods, versus 10.2% in suburban neighborhoods.  (The overall national increase, including urban and suburban neighborhoods, was 10.5%.) But despite faster price growth in cities, the suburbs are where people are moving: suburban neighborhoods had faster population growth than urban neighborhoods did, 0.56% versus 0.31%.

Change in home prices, Y-o-Y Change in population, Y-o-Y
Urban neighborhoods

11.3%

0.31%

Suburban neighborhoods

10.2%

0.56%

But shouldn’t price gains and population growth go hand-in-hand? Not necessarily: there’s more room to build new housing for a growing population in sprawling suburbs than in dense urban areas, so suburbs can more easily accommodate growth with new construction. In contrast, the more people want to live in dense, urban neighborhoods, the more they bid up the price of existing homes. Even with the recent rebound in construction of urban multifamily buildings, most new housing is still in the suburbs.

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Welcome to the Gayborhood

From Provincetown to the Castro, gay men and women have made neighborhoods their own. Many are pricey, but we’ve found some affordable neighborhoods where you can be out and proud.

In honor of Gay Pride month, when New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many others cities across the country hold their annual parades, we wanted to find the gayest neighborhoods across America. No surprise that San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is at the top of the list, but throughout the country there are suburban and small-town neighborhoods with high concentrations of gay people. Even in the big, expensive cities, it’s possible to find a gay community without spending a fortune. And the picture looks different for gay men and women, who often cluster in very different neighborhoods even in the same metro.

Here’s what we did. For each ZIP code in the U.S., we calculated the share of households that are same-sex male couples and same-sex female couples, based on the 2010 Census. Then, we combined the Census data on where gay people live with median price per foot of listed homes in each ZIP code on Trulia over the past year.

(The fine print: The Census doesn’t ask sexual orientation, of course, so the only way to measure gay neighborhoods is based on where couples live. The Census data requires some corrections and adjustments, described here. Finally, ZIP codes don’t line up perfectly with neighborhoods, but we did our best to use the closest neighborhood names that correspond to the ZIP codes in our analysis.)

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