Higher Home Values Preserved in Mixed-Income, Medium-Density Suburbs

A new study of the Philadelphia area commissioned by the Congress for New Urbanism “finds new urban characteristics play a role” in how households and neighborhoods weathered the recent economic downtown.

1 minute read

November 17, 2012, 9:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


An analysis of home sales in 340 zip codes in the Philadelphia region showed that neighborhoods with "exclusively low-density dwellings", as well as those "lacking income diversity" fared poorly in the latest recession from 2007 - 2012, reports Robert Steuteville. Declines in home values ranged from 1.9 percent to 49 percent in individual zip codes, with housing in Center City, Philadephia showing less of a decline than areas of extreme sprawl. "Mixed-use, walkable, suburbs also declined an average of 20 percent. The average house price in the region went down 26 percent. Typical non-new urbanist communities declined 35 percent." reports Steuteville.

This marked a reversal in patterns from the last housing downturn from 1989 – 1995, when housing values in the core urban center plummeted at a higher rate than those in lower-density suburban areas. The study's author, Kevin Gillen, an economist and senior research consultant at the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute, observes, "not only is the magnitude of the recent housing downturn unique, but its structure is as well." The report's findings align with a similar study carried out by Christopher Leinberger in the Washington DC area.

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