Two-thirds of Americans like their neighbors, even if almost half don’t know their neighbors’ names. But it’s not always easy being a good neighbor. Many Americans want neighbors who are similar to themselves, and even friendly neighbors can be judgmental, nosy, or passive-aggressive.
Do Americans love their neighbors as themselves? Although “love” might be pushing it, most Americans are pretty happy with their neighbors. To understand how Americans feel about their neighbors, Trulia surveyed 3,014 American adults on September 25-27, 2013.
Let’s start with the good news. Unlike Homer Simpson, who lives next door to the annoying Ned Flanders, two thirds of all Americans like their neighbors, and that number jumps to 80% among people who know their neighbors’ names. But even among people who don’t know their neighbors’ names, 53% like their neighbors.
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|
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.0 comments
Despite the recent growth of big city downtowns, there is no widespread shift toward dense, urban living. Instead, the long term suburbanization of America continues.
For decades, Americans have chosen to live in suburbs rather than in cities. Suburban growth has outpaced urban growth, and many big cities have even lost population. But in recent years, some experts have said it’s time for cities to make a comeback. Why? Urban crime rates have fallen; many baby boomers want to live near restaurants, shops, and all the other good things that cities offer; and the housing bust has caused more people to rent instead of buy – sometimes by choice and sometimes out of necessity. Moreover, cities offer shorter commutes, a big draw given today’s higher gas prices and growing concerns about the environment.
So is there evidence that cities are really making a comeback? Earlier this year, a widely-reported Brookings analysis using 2011 Census estimates suggested that they were, reversing the long-term trend of faster suburban growth. However, it later became clear that those 2011 Census estimates should not be used for areas smaller than counties, which includes most cities and suburbs (see “the fine print” at the end of this post).
Knowing that we couldn’t use these Census data, we decided to tackle this question another way. Using U.S. Postal Service data on occupied addresses receiving mail, we calculated household growth in every ZIP code from September 2011 to September 2012. (A previous Trulia Trends post explains in more detail how these data are collected.) Consistent with earlier studies of city versus suburb growth, we compared the growth in a metro area’s biggest city with the growth in the rest of the metropolitan area, across America’s 50 largest metros.0 comments