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Ive been hinting about this for a while, but census ACS data has some very interesting demographic trends in the core areas that appear largely upon racial lines. I bring this up because if you consider the stereotype that whites generally have more means and opportunities to live where they want than nonwhites, this data is particularly relevant.For a while now, most of the DC metro population growth has been 20% white, and 80% nonwhite. This is normal and very much in line with trends across the US, and contributing to our identity as the world’s melting pot. There are three areas that have consistently bucked that trend, Arlington, Alexandria & DC. For example, lets compare the results of the 1990 versus the 2000 census.1990 vs 2000 CensusDCWhite Growth -6,953Non White Growth -27,888Total Growth -34,841 Arlington White Growth -4,239Non White Growth +22,756Total Growth +18,517 AlexandriaWhite Growth -2,587Non White Growth +19,687Total Growth +17,100 This is a pattern the core has seen for at least four decades, possibly longer (Arlington records only extend to 1970). In each case, the areas are suffering under so called “white flight”, where more and more people with means have been leaving and escaping to the suburbs. While there are now, and always have been “nice” parts in the core areas, there is nothing here in countywide records to indicate these areas are desirable. If anything, those “nice” parts were likely getting smaller and smaller over time and the people who moved in were often 1st generation immigrants without means to move to other more desirable areas outside the beltway – or in the case of DC, where everyone was leaving - places were simply abandoned.A funny thing happened in the last decade. This started probably in 1998, but can best be seen by comparing the 2000 vs 2007 Census (acs) data.2000 vs 2007 Census DCWhite Growth +24,784Non White Growth -11,576Total Growth +13,208Arlington White Growth +14,795Non White Growth -2,450Total Growth +12,345 AlexandriaWhite Growth +11,179Non White Growth -841Total Growth +10,338 I want you all to look carefully at this. Quite frankly, these results are shocking. The “white flight” trend of the last 4 decades has not only stopped, but completely reversed! Instead of each area continuing to lose 1,000+ whites, decade after decade, they are now moving in to each area at a rate of over 10,000 a decade! Again, outside the beltway, and in most of the United States the trend is 20% white growth and 80% nonwhite growth. This is one of the few areas in the U.S. where you see 100+% white growth and negative nonwhite growth. Now, If these or similar numbers appear in the 2010 census, it will represent a number of firsts. - It will be the first white growth in numerical or percentage terms in at least 40 years (70 years in DC).- It will be the first population gain of any kind in DC in 70 years. - In Alexandria & DC where records extend to the year 1800, in percentage terms this will be the largest white population growth seen since 1860 - a period of 140 years.I bring this up because for years on this site, we have heard “not much has changed in the core” or “the core is no more desirable than it was historically” or something similar. The fact of the matter is, that is simply not true. The census data suggests these areas, long victims of white flight, are now considered desirable by tens of thousands of people – people often with the means to live wherever they darn well please. None of this means that the core is “immune” or some other ridiculous argument. However, it does suggest that this area has indeed recently become more valuable than it has been for a generation or more.
Wow - thats amazing. I suspected something like this was going on, but I had no idea it was such a strong trend.Largest change in 140 years ehh? Sounds like a new paradigm after all.
Wow, CRT, that's striking!Any chance you can check whether this applies to other cities like NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Fran? One would think it must be a cultural paradigm shift for it to be that drastic.
"Largest change in 140 years ehh? Sounds like a new paradigm after all."I hasten to use that word because of the whole Lance thing, but it sure looks that way. I agree with you in that the strength of the migration is shocking. Infact, the reason I held off so long on posting this is because a pollster I know works alot with demographics out in central va. When I showed him this, he at first said "thats impossible" noting the strength of the movement, but he went so far as to call a buddy at the census to confirm it was correct. He cautioned this 7 year data is not as accurate as the 10 year decennial census (due at the end of next year), but its probably not far off. If anything he said they might be undercounting the movement of whites back into the urban areas.
CRT,Thanks for providing that data. While it appears compelling at first blush, I think a bit of context is needed. Let's look at Arlington County as an example.As of 2007 Arlington County had approximately 205,000 residents and approximately 93,000 households (about 2.2 persons per household).If 2,450 non-white residents moved out of Arlington from 2000 to 2007, that means non-white departure from the county was aproximately 1,100 households, or 1%, on a cumulative basis over that 8 year period (roughly 1/8th of a percent per year).Forgive me for being cynical, but I don't buy the theory that a 1% cumulative non-white rate of attrition caused houses in my neighborhood of Arlington (which was almost entirely non-white during the entire period from 2000 to 2007) to more than double in price over that time period.I realize you didn't mention any specific neighborhood and were speaking more generally. However, I'm trying to demonstrate a point which is that while demographic changes may indeed have played some very small role in price changes over the period, they in no way explain the vast majority of price changes we saw.The vast majority of price changes were due to low interest rates, speculation, greed, and fear (i.e., unsustainable factors not tied to fundamentals).
"Cara said...Any chance you can check whether this applies to other cities like NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Fran? One would think it must be a cultural paradigm shift for it to be that drastic."I asked about that myself. They think it applies, but its harder to detect. In most of these cities, the population (white and nonwhite) is still declining, but thats not necessarily a problem for housing values. Many of the people moving in are singles and DINKs, but the ones moving out are lower income types who have 1-2-3 or more kids. Thus a family of 5 moves out replaced by a family of 2, & the population falls. Also, most of these cities had a substantial white population to begin with so its more of a working vs. professional class issue. In these cities, the overall population is still declining, but the white population decline has slowed to a crawl (to near even) where as the non-white population decline continues at a more noticeable rate.
crt,thanks. That's kind of also what the 1999/2000 numbers look like to me for DC itself. All around declining but less so for the white population.
JF Said..."Forgive me for being cynical, but I don't buy the theory that a 1% cumulative non-white rate of attrition caused houses in my neighborhood of Arlington (which was almost entirely non-white during the entire period from 2000 to 2007) to more than double in price over that time period."Fair enough JF. Think of it this way. Imagine Ashburn or some other desirable area outside of the core. Suppose that over the years, you see more and more things you as a homeowner dont like. Increased incidence of crime, more pawn shops, check cashing stores, etc. At some point the perception changes - Ashburn is still nice, but it is viewed by many as an area "in decline".If that happens, you can imagine the effect it will have on property values. Typical buyer might think, its still "OK" now, but what will it look like in 10 years when I want to sell? If this area continues to see wear and tear, why do I want to move there? No doubt this affects property values in a very negative way.By contrast, what happens when an area that was down and out loses that moniker and becomes increasingly more desirable? As a buyer, you speculate that the desirabliity will continue in which case, you are certainly more willing to pay for a place than you would for an area considered in decline.Again, I dont doubt for a second, that there was a bubble here. Then again, recall what we learned about the fundamentals - particularly in Arlington. Median price increased by 43% beating the increase in every other burb by 13% or more. Greatest growth was in the 200+ K households. Take these spectacular increases in the fundamentals, and apply them to an area experiencing a change not seen in 140 years, and suddenly the overperformance here relative to other areas makes alot more sense.
CRT -- that is very interesting data. It would be interesting to see that compared with job growth trends in the "core" areas -- how many new jobs and job type, etc. The reason I say that is 5-6 years ago an acquaintance told me that DC was the place to watch, as many tech companies were beginning to move staffing operations there. According to this person, they were finding that the young talent (generally unmarried, no kids) was more interested in city living than the exurban life, which makes a lot of sense. Recruiting graduates from top colleges nationwide to live in Adams Morgan was just easier than recruiting them to live in Ashburn. And as these jobs move into the "core," it stands to reason that more people would follow, not just young college grads. On that note, it would also be interesting to see the age, marital and income breakdown of the new core demographics. Very interesting stuff!
Very interesting numbers and comments, CRT.I think the movement in follows the trend in desirable European cities from way back. Many of the people who can afford to, live downtown and prices are quite high. The wealthy among them also have weekend homes where they can garden and relax. Many factors contribute to this tendency, but one of them is extremely high energy prices (gasoline may be 3X what it is here).Where do Latino people fit into the numbers? They can be of any race. There is a high concentration of Latino households in certain parts of Arlington (and Alexandria). In those parts I think you see housing that behaves more similarly to the outer counties, in terms of price changes, foreclosures, etc. When these areas are averaged against other areas of these counties, it sometimes makes the trends harder to sort out.FWIW, when we started house hunting here in 1999, I thought Arlington was undervalued relative to other areas that were similarly convenient for my commute (not low in any absolute sense!). Maybe other people thought so and contributed to the change.
PS CRT I think you meant in your final pgh, "median income increased 43%".
John - I think to the more compelling thing is not the "rate of non-white attrition" as you said, but the presence of whites moving in after leaving for decades. Minorities moving in can actually be a good thing if non-minority population increases too. Bug whites leaving is never a good sign. For example heres white migration by decade:1970-1980-2,5721980-1990-5851990-2000-2,5972000-2007+14,795This group of people, the ones who were slowly abandoning this area, are moving back in at unprecedented rates. The losses of the last 30+ years have been made back in 7 years with many more to spare. That I think is the more compelling part of the equasion.
Good question about the jobs Gigi - I dont know about the jobs, but I have heard the same things about the changing demographics of the younger workers. Interestingly, the population in the core has gotten slightly older. My guess is thats as the multiple child families move out, replaced by the smaller families, it shifts the ages upward. Ace - I did mean median income +43%. Thanks. Also, with regard to latinos, it looks like they and black populations are moving out the fastest. Asian and "other" populations appear more stable.I understand that the first generation immigrant groups that used to establish in the cities, before moving to the burbs, are now bypassing that 2 step move and going straight to the suburbs.
CRT,well, i kinda find it a rather trivial argument --- there was a huge growth in this area since late 90s, all the new development, etc. it is definitely more hip than it was 20 years ago. for dc this change is even more pronounced, i do not think that arlington was a crime-ridden place anytime recently, while in dc they managed to contain the crime big time and practically isolate it from nw dc. i remember working on some GIS project for dc crime statistics, check out this link: http://capstat.oca.dc.gov/mapping/i remember checking some addresses in nw and they were kinda surrounded by stabbings and robberies prior to year 2000, and pretty clean after that, most of the crime activity is theft from the cars. so i understand easliy, why people started to move there.
CRT -- also worth considering, I think, is the effect gentrification has had on the numbers, as well. As neighborhoods have developed and "improved," they have become less affordable for those that have historically lived there, pushing them outward to find more affordable housing. And as the demographics of the neighborhoods shift, the more "desirable" they become, thereby attracting residents with a higher income, etc., so the cycle feeds on itself.
I don't see a whole lot of reason to be surprised here.While it's true that "whites generally have more means and opportunities to live where they want than nonwhites", you have to look at differences in "utility" to different populations, too.For less affluent recent immigrants things like convenient public transportation and stores within walking distance are more important than for an affluent person with a car. Even though they had less money, these immigrants were willing to pay more for Arlington housing because it was more of a necessity, and bid up the value. Larger, newer residences further out then became a better option for the affluent residents not dependent on public transportation or nearby stores. As communities of immigrants from the same countries formed, and social services to support these communities became available, these Arlington locations became even more valuable to immigrants. As landlord found they could continue to fill their buildings, even with less maintenance, it made even less sense economically for affluent people who did not need the services and communities to stay in Arlington.Other parts of the county, e.g., the 22207 zip, with more expensive housing, less public transportation and more car-dependent neighborhoods didn't see a the demographic shift.What's happened recently to change this? For one thing, even the cheaper neighborhoods of South Arlington have become far more expensive, and less affordable to immigrants. Large immigrant communities in other areas, like other options. Large areas of formerly "affordable" housing, e.g. the area just off 395 at Glebe, were redeveloped for higher income people. The development of the orange line metro corridor, especially the expensive condos, was directed at a more affluent demographic, which tends to be more white.This process goes back at least to the 80's when Ballston took the place of Parkington, and the older housing was replaced by newer, more expensive housing. It's just through much of the 80's and 90's this trend was swamped by immigration trends in other parts of the county.The census information on the Arlington County website: http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CPHD/planning/data_maps/Census/report90_00.pdf doesn't agree with your numbers. It shows a drop of just 272 in the number of whites in Arlington County or 0.2% from 1990 to 2000. In percentage terms, this is less than a sixth of the size of "black or African American" flight over that period. The story of the 1990s is not white flight, it's large scale immigration increasing the non-white population, and the total population.I think it really stretches the definition of "white flight" when in 2000, after decades of supposed white flight, you have an Arlington population that's still 69% white.I've been in the area since 1979, so I can't say much about how people felt in the 1970s, but there's never been a time in while I've been here that whites were afraid to live in Arlington, unlike many of the areas you typically associate with white flight. Rather than whites fleeing Arlington, I'd say the story is more of non-white flight into Arlington, at least until recently when it became too expensive. Even in the 1970s where the drop in white population was more significant, a lot of this is explained by another demographic fact: a drop in the average household size from 2.42 to 2.07. Arlington had a major building boom in the post-war years. By the seventies, the baby boomers living in these houses were leaving home, leaving behind empty nesters, and reducing the Arlington population. A house occupied by just an older couple is a house not occupied by a family. Because of the segregation in Arlington in the post war years, and even into the 60's, the majority of households affected by this trend were white.Bottom line: Whether Arlington had white flight or not depends on how you define it. If any meaningful decrease in population is called "white flight", then yes it did. While Arlington did see years in which the white population decreased, it never saw the "white flight" like in many major cities where whites no longer wanted to live in large parts of the cities. The changes can be explained by other demographic changes, a surge in immigrant population, and economics, rather than racial issues typically associated with white flight.
"CRT said...I understand that the first generation immigrant groups that used to establish in the cities, before moving to the burbs, are now bypassing that 2 step move and going straight to the suburbs."I read something about that not long ago. Anecdotally, I was watching Anthony Bourdain on the travel channel profile the culinary scene in DC. He went to Ben's chili bowl & a couple of DC establishments. However, I had to laugh because for the segment on authentic ethnic cuisine, he said you had to go to where all the various communities live, so off he went to various stip malls in fairfax.
I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now, my first time posting. My husband and I are anxious to move to Arlington/Alexandria as soon as possible from the suburbs (currently in Houston, TX). I won't go into all details of why we are leaving Texas, but basically after 10 years we just finally give up on trying to fit in here (this is not meant to offend any Texans).We moved to suburbs (we have also lived in suburbs of Denver) to raise the kids. They are raised (yippee!). We are ready for the next phase of our lives, and for us this is a place with more excitement, personality, and diversity than the suburbs. We still have a number of years to go in our careers, so this is not a case of retirement (for that, we have eyes on Portugal or some other foreign land). Now that the kids are gone, we have more disposable income and can afford Arlington/Alexandria (of course nowhere near the house we can afford in Texas, but this is not important to us anymore). I have noticed more races (in addition to white) are moving into the suburbs, but I don’t believe the whites are moving out because of this reason (we are considered caucasion and this is certainly not our reason for leaving the burbs ). I see all races moving into the suburbs (including caucasion), but they mostly consist of those with children or wanting children in the future.Maybe part of the trend is that the “empty nesters” and the younger generatons that don’t have kids are coming back to the city.
Konstantin - the point was, for a long time the argument here was "its not different than it was 10 years ago" or "its no more desirable than it was before" and the like. Looking at the monumental change in demographics, those arguments are simply not true.Thus the question now is, since these areas are more desirable than they were before, how much of the price increase is real, and how much is the bubble? That we dont know, but the idea that it was nothing more than the bubble, is dead. Konstantin & KeithK. To be fair, you are right Arlington never had much of a crime problem - so perhaps its a bit much to call it white flight. However, as you noted the change has been "even more signifcant in DC". I agree, but look too at pricing. From 2000-2005 DC proper rose almost as much as PWC, and fell less than anywhere 2006-2008. Is this a mere coincidence? Is it just a matter of time til DC experiences the same crash as PWC did? I think DC is going to have a tough year, but when all is said and done, I wouldnt be surprised if it holds on to the most of its gains out of anywhere in the area.
Keith K - im glad too you brought up those numbers from Arlington CPHD. Thats all we had til cara uncovered all this data from the ACS Census. Its increasingly looking like that CPHD data is just wrong. Given the strength of this census info, I expect Arlington business development to update their info soon enough."CMY said...I have noticed more races (in addition to white) are moving into the suburbs, but I don’t believe the whites are moving out because of this reason (we are considered caucasion and this is certainly not our reason for leaving the burbs ). I see all races moving into the suburbs (including caucasion), but they mostly consist of those with children or wanting children in the future."CMY - to be clear, whites are not moving out of the suburbs. Whites are still moving there along with minority groups heres Farifax county for example:1990-2000White Growth +43,969Non White Growth +107,1962000-2007White Growth +3,226Non White Growth +34,001This is more typical of most areas in the US - growth in all sectors. What was atypical was the core areas showing the negative growth in whites 1950-2000 and then 100% growth (with minority flight) 2000-2007.
"Gigi said...And as the demographics of the neighborhoods shift, the more "desirable" they become, thereby attracting residents with a higher income, etc., so the cycle feeds on itself."I think you are right Gigi. Think too of the newly arriving immigrant groups. Thanks to the bursting bubble, there is a ton of affordable housing out on the periphery. I could see this accelerating the low income shift to places away from the center.
crt said: "the point was, for a long time the argument here was "its not different than it was 10 years ago" or "its no more desirable than it was before" and the like. Looking at the monumental change in demographics, those arguments are simply not true."Again, I don't see how a 1% decline in non-whites in Arlington County can be considered a "monumental change in demographics."And I still do not agree that Arlington County has changed that much from 2000 to 2007. A few higher end stores here and there, yes, but not much else has really changed except the price of real estate.CRT, I think you are trying to make sense of something (the rise in house prices) that just doesn't make sense.
"John Fountain said...Again, I don't see how a 1% decline in non-whites in Arlington County can be considered a "monumental change in demographics."I agree John - the 1% decline in non-whites is just an interesting anomaly. The far more interesting thing is the other side of that which is the white growth. In percentage terms its +4% over a 7 year period. Doesnt seem like much does it? Well consider, in established areas these things dont move swiftly. Thus if that +4% holds up til 2010, it will be: - the first percentage growth in 4 decades among whites (6 decades in Alex & DC).- the strongest percentage growth of any demographic group since the 1960s when the black population in DC was growing at 5% a decade.- the strongest white growth seen since reconstruction, a period of 140 years.So your perception is that Arlington hasnt changed much 2000-2007. Fair enough. Just understand that the demographic data suggest a far different picture.
crt said: "The far more interesting thing is the other side of that which is the white growth. In percentage terms its +4% over a 7 year period."And this population growth was met with a proportionate increase in housing units. Therefore, I still don't see how it explains to any large degree why median prices increased 118% from 2000 to 2007 in Arlington County.
John - thats the other side of the argument which gets back to fundamentals. We know that the median income growth in Arlington was +43% over 7 years. To my knowledge that is the largest increase in median income growth of any large area examined by the census.Second, we know that the largest percentage of increase came in households earning 200K+. Specifically, from 2000-2007, there are 7,348 new households in this income bracket, yet only 6,970 new units were built. Thats a shortage. Consider too, that the vast majority of those were condos, & likely went to the 16,849 new households in the 100-200K income bracket.So basically you have, the county with perhaps the most significant income growth in the US, competing in a land consrained area over a limited number of single family homes. Combine this with the largest demographic shift in decades, combined with a likely change in outlook in the future of these areas. Suddenly, the large change in median price doesnt seem so strange anymore.
"TBW said...I may be misreading your argument but I think it ignores the massive, MASSIVE growth of the exurbs during the same period of time. Loudoun County was the second fastest growing locality in the nation. It added, what, six high schools?" No doubt TBW - the median income growth here was a very impressive +30%. Also, the 200K income households grew by an impressive 8,140 households - lots and lots of demand...However, there is one important distinction, that Lou & PWC have which the core areas do not, and thats the ability to match that demand with an equally large supply of SFH, condos, TH, etc. Plenty of undeveloped land available. If supply meets demand, prices remain stable. If demand exceeds supply, prices rise, and if supply exceeds demand, prices fall. In that regard, lets compare the number of 200K income growth households compared to housing uints built 2000-2007:Arl200K HH +7,348new units +6,970Slight shortage here - unless they build more, some pricing out will take place.Alex200K HH +4,346new units +5,683Slight surplus here - prices must fall a bit.FFX 200K HH +32,745new units +35,384Again a slight surplus - prics must fall a bit.LOU200K HH +8,140new units +35,844Pardon my french but holy shit! Talk about overbuilding! Thats alot of McMansions that need to fall in price significantly before there are households with sufficient income to buy them.PWC200K HH +7,328new units +31,356Again, huge amount of overbuilding, and a massive surplus.Now, obviously, it wasnt just luxury condos close in, and it wasnt just McMansions far out, but those are likely the majority. In any event, the problem is a fundamental one of supply and demand. Close in, this is a minor problem, far out it is a major problem. Thus, its no surpise Lou & PWC have suffered in ways Arl, Alex & parts of Ffx havent.
crt, i think we'll have to agree to disagree. i still don't think the large majority of price gains were supported by fundamentals.
so many words....cliffs notes-baby boomers moving into urban areas after kids are out.gen x,y getting married/ having kids much later (if at all), staying in urban areas longer
CRT,Whoa, hold on. Those are very interesting numbers but the bubble CAUSED this shift, right? People with meager means suddenly found that they could own a nice house out in PWC so they moved out there. The resulting demographic changes brought more professionals into Arlington. I'm sorry but I find it extremely unlikely that Arlington would have become more desirable since 2000 without the housing bubble. The numbers you posted are a result of the bubble and trying to project other reasons onto them is a reach imo.Now that these shifts are done, however, I DO think that Arlington prices can remain propped up at historically elevated levels. The bubble caused demographic shifts that have made certain neighborhoods more desirable than they used to be. I don't see any reason for that to change unless people are forced to sell their overpriced homes. That's less likely to happen to people with some wealth.
I have to confess that I've never heard of the ACS Census data until today. I took a quick look at the US Census bureau web pages and I couldn't find anything that says the ACS data is more accurate than the the standard decennial data used in the Arlington statistics. The ACS is an estimate based on sampling, while the decennial census is enumeration based. While a good sampling can be better than a poor enumeration, I didn't see any suggestion that the Census bureau thinks that's the case here (from media kit): • WHAT IT IS. The American Community Survey is a nationwide survey designed to give communities current and accurate information every year about their socioeconomic and housing characteristics. It is part of the official census of the United States and as such, responses are mandatory.•WHAT IT IS NOT. The American Community Survey is not the official source of population counts. The official population count — including population by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin — comes from the once-a-decade census, supplemented by annual population estimates (the Population Estimates Program). American Community Survey data are designed to show the characteristics of the nation's population and should not be used as actual population counts or housing totals for the nation, states or counties. Based on that, I think that the information on the Arlington County web site will stick to the official counts for 1990 and 2000.Maybe I'm getting too far off the main point, which was the major change in population trends that took place in 2000 to 2007. But whichever set of statistics you use, I think calling what occurred in Arlington "white flight" is too strong a term. There was never a period when major portions of Arlington went from being white to being totally undesirable to whites. In the typical urban flight scenario (think Anacostia from 1960 to 1980) demand disintegrates. Those who can afford to move out do, not just whites, but many middle class non-whites. While people may have left Arlington for less expensive homes in the suburbs in the 1970s- 2000, when urban flight takes hold people often end up leaving for more expensive places in the suburbs. They're not substituting, they're fleeing, and price is no longer the major concern.In the time I've been in the area, Arlington housing has always commanded a premium. While lots of people didn't want to live there, just like now, there were many who did but thought it was too expensive or just couldn't afford it. That's a sign of high demand, not flight.I think the biggest thing recently that's affecting the population ratios is the additional expensive housing being built to meet the demand that's always been there. I still don't get the price increases, though, and think sooner or later that substitution effect is going to take its toll.As far as rising incomes, sometimes the cause and effect are hard to separate. Are prices rising because richer people are moving in, or are only rich people moving in because prices are so high, or is this just two ways of looking at the same price/demand equilibrium. In any case, there seem to be a more lawyers per square foot in my neighborhood than there were 20 years ago.
"Jeff B said...I'm sorry but I find it extremely unlikely that Arlington would have become more desirable since 2000 without the housing bubble."Jeff - I thought about that. Individual annual records show the shift toward Arl, Alex & DC started about 1998 - long before there was any junk loans available to use as speculative fuel for the bubble. I use 2000-2007, just because thats whats available per ACS. Recall too that one of the central tenants of "the bubble" is that junk loans were the fuel - incomes dont support it - this area is just as desirable as it was before.A long time ago, we learned the # and % of junk loans used in the core was far far less than they used past fairfax.A long time ago, we learned that the number of excess sales (flippers selling to flippers, or flippers owning multiple houses) was far less outside the beltway.We recently learned, the median income gains - especially in Arlington were far beyond anywhere I have seen (save Alexandria).On top of all that, as a good percentage of the posters here suggest, demographers for a long time have noted people (due to delayed marriages, less children, different preferences in work family, time etc), may want to live somewhere other than the suburbs. Til now, we had no idea if that was true or not.What I am showing you is census data that suggests not only is it true, but the changes taking place are very much in line with what they suggested might happen.Now, if thats true, then there were two overlapping, but not simultaneous things affecting core areas (the bubble) and (fundamental change). As KeithK noted, this is 7 year ACS data - it is NOT as accurate than decennial data due next year. And Keith I agree with you, white flight is a strong word for Arlington. Perhaps white indifference 1970-1998 was more correct. However, the reason I waited so long to post this is because I knew this would be the reaction. The pollster I spoke to is Mr. Donovan 301-441-2420, if you want to double check for yourself. However, I can assure you the census and really half the demographic communtiy is watching this ACS data this very very carefully - if anything they think the decennial census will come in even stronger than this 7 year report.In any event, Cara, once again, I want to thank you for turning us onto that wonderful source of data. For the longest time we were debating whether these areas "were no more desirable than they were historically" with nothing to back it up either way. Ironically, its only now that the bottom is at least in sight that you found this. Without it, I wonder how long those arguments would have continued? Now we dont have to wonder - those arguments are over.
CRT, thanks for posting and explaining this extremely interesting data. It would be even more interesting if there were data organized by zip code. There's no doubt that N. Arlington is a good deal "whiter" than S. Arlington. I also agree that demographics has much to do with the continued premium that N. Arlington housing continues to command. Contributing to this premium are: the fact that Arlington County schools improved dramatically over the last decade; and the ceaseless traffic nightmares throughout the further-out suburbs which plague the lives of most residents living there. Arlington's easy access to public transportation gives it a big advantage over most other locations.Certainly, in my 22207 neighborhood (walking distance to Metrorail) recent real estate sales have been very healthy in terms of prices. There's no question the demand is there.
"For the longest time we were debating whether these areas "were no more desirable...I wonder how long those arguments would have continued? Now we dont have to wonder - those arguments are over."If the bubble hadn't happened I think Arlington would have become more desirable over the last 10 years. Somewhat. Enough to explain the current housing prices? I don't believe that.I didn't mean to imply that I'm questioning your data at all - I'm not all that surprised by the numbers. I'm just caught off guard that everyone is willing to toss the bubble aside and blame a slight change in demographics for a tripling of prices in this area. I'm equally as surprised that the bubble isn't the number one reason given for those demographic changes happening in the first place.I don't think there's necessarily a need for junk loans in Arlington either to link this area to the bubble. There aren't that many houses in Arlington period. If the bogus loans out in PWC make those houses 'worth' $500k all of a sudden there's no way Arlington houses are going to stay at $500k. As far as I'm concerned Arlington absolutely suffered a bubble since ~2000. That bubble drove demographic changes that will most likely protect this area from precipitous declines in the future.
I don't think this is an either or argument. The question is whether Arlington/Alexandria will retain their bubble-won gains. What CRT has shown numerically is that throughout the bubble years the demand exceeded the supply. And that at least to some extent, the incomes were sufficient to back that demand, with little need for exotic financing (as evidence by how little of it happened in those areas). The two questions now are, will demand slacken? And what will happen to Arl/Ale x prices if it no longer exceeds supply (as produced by the normal turnover forces of death, divorce, job changes, and retirement). I think these are both open questions. Why? Because of the lack of move-up equity. Oh, and someone said that they didn't DINK lawyers were living in 1 bedroom Arlington condos. Well.... actually, I was talking to a friend at work about Burke (where they live) and he mentioned that his daughter and son-in-law both young lawyers in their late 20s umm, do live in Arlington in a 1 bedroom condo. And absolutely refuse to consider anywhere else. I didn't have the heart to inquire to whether they had bought this debt trap or not. So, I know. anecdotal evidence is pretty worthless, but, FWIW at least one pair of lawyers does indeed choose a 1 bedroom in Arlington over anywhere else despite the fact that she works out past Tysons...
Yep I think the demographics are interesting in answering that question - whether Arlington prices will remain high. I think they played little part in raising them as high as they are now.I live with my wife in a 1 BR Arlington condo, but we rent. We're about to move out to Vienna to a rental SFH while we wait out the rest of the price drops. I'd never buy in Arlington at the current prices. I think it will be tough for Arlington prices to really remain high if the outer burbs continue to decline. We value urban life and easy commuting very highly but we'd buy in Reston before we'd buy here considering what you get for a comparable home price in the two locations.
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