Bank Foreclosures Pushing Down Suburbs, UVA Professor Says

by Simon Lindsay on Foreclosure Crisis

Bank foreclosures have been occurring at higher rates in the suburbs as compared to cities, according to William Lucy, a professor of planning at the University of Virginia.

In his book Foreclosing the Dream: How America’s Housing Crisis Is Changing Our Cities and Suburbs, which was published and promoted by the American Planning Association, Lucy discussed why the foreclosure crisis happened and how it has been effecting changes in cities and suburbs.

Lucy also said that foreclosures in the suburbs show significant patterns, such as higher rates of foreclosure in counties around large cities. This relationship has been greatest in the cities of San Francisco and Washington and in Los Angeles County.

In his study, Lucy examined the foreclosure, income and housing data for 236 counties located in the 35 largest metro areas in the country. He also analyzed income and housing data in all the 50 states.

His study showed that the surge in bank foreclosures has ironically strengthened the revival of central cities, a development that has been gaining momentum throughout the decade. Lucy said that while cities will experience revivals, suburbs will go into decline.

More suburban homeowners in their fifties or in their late forties are moving back to the cities as houses become affordable and more homes become available. Younger adults in the cities, on the other hand, do not have plans of moving to the suburbs.

The characteristics of home ownership have also been changing. More families are avoiding large suburban homes and foreclosed families are not participating in the house buying market. The exodus of white households from the centers of cities has also stopped and has reversed.

Other factors that will accelerate the decline of suburbs are government residential and transportation projects aimed at cutting down carbon dioxide emissions. Residents will also support high-density projects as they seek shorter commutes.

Lucy featured data for 35 major metro areas including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and the Florida cities of Tampa and Saint Petersburg.

Additionally, Lucy explained that the suburban decline was not evident in the early part of the decade because of the housing boom. He also reiterated that positive things will come out of the crisis of bank foreclosures, such as changes in lending practices, renewal of public-private collaborations and elimination of construction and business practices which are no longer workable.

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