A new report by Redfin has highlighted the fact that there are very few neighborhoods with a balanced mix of home prices and where people of different incomes live side by side.
Redfin thinks these types of places are important as people in different income brackets get to live together as neighbors and all will share the same local parks, sidewalks and other amenities. As a family’s income increases, then they will gradually be able to afford a more expensive property.
Even though the neighborhoods with this type of balanced home-price mix accounts for a measly 13%, experts feel they are good for society. A recent report carried out by the Pew Charitable Trust found more economic mobility in neighborhoods with a greater range of incomes compared to neighborhoods where income levels were roughly the same.
Neighborhoods that do meet these criteria include Egleston Square in Boston and Jefferson Park in Denver. In fact Boston is tops of Redfin’s list of economically integrated cities, with an impressive 51% of the city enjoying a balanced home-price mix. Bottom of the list are San Francisco and Baltimore at 11% and 10% respectively. But when Redfin took a closer look at the figures for these two cities they found that while 86% of San Francisco consists of homes that couldn’t be afforded by a middle income family, middle income families in Baltimore could afford to buy in 86% of Baltimore.
Seattle was another surprise, as even in Queen Anne which feels likes one of the most exclusive areas in the city, median income families can afford to buy a home. In this particular neighborhood condos and shops have been built on the former site of a single shop and parking lot, enabling working class people to live in a neighborhood where the existing housing stock would have been too expensive.
Redfin points out that one of the key factors in making this sort of mix a success is zoning and the experts agree with them. Good local policy can ensure an adequate supply of housing, preventing economic growth from pushing up prices too far. By doing this, cities can ensure they have economically integrated communities, but it can take decades to implement these types of changes.
In order to take a closer look, Refin assessed the affordability of millions of home, comparing sale prices with a median income family. An area with more than three affordable properties sold for each expensive home would be labelled affordable by Redfin. Although it is hard to find these types of neighborhoods, Redfin’s list shows it is not impossible.