Top cities stories of 2011
The exurban collapse that is (maybe)
Photo: Barrie SutcliffeAmericans (and their personal fortunes) may still be tied up the suburbs, but the farthest exurban fringes do seem to have taken a serious, possibly fatal, hit — at least if real estate prices are any indication. An analysis of Zillow’s real estate database by the Brookings Institution (yes, they’re the same folks who brought us “bright flight,” so take this with a grain of salt) shows that the most expensive neighborhoods in the nation are dense, urban areas such as Seattle’s Capitol Hill and Logan Circle in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the price of many houses in fringe neighborhoods are now below replacement value. Christopher Leinberger, who did the study for Brookings, argued in a recent New York Times op-ed that this devaluation means that the exurbs will quickly turn into slums. Of course, you could also argue that this is just one more reason people will stay where they are: Why would you sell your place in the ‘burbs for a pittance when it’s not going to buy you half of a house in the city? Time will tell. Meantime, if you’re looking for a screaming deal on a McMansion well out of biking range of town, have I got a deal for you …
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