Tuesday, September 27, 2016

High-Income ZIP Codes Benefit Most from Housing Recovery

by Alexander Hermann
Research Assistant
Although home prices nationally have been on the upswing since early 2012, the increases have not only been uneven across metropolitan areas but are more likely to have occurred in the most affluent parts of each metropolitan area, according to a new Joint Center analysis of Zillow home value data.

Most notably, home values in high-income ZIP Codes that are home to their region’s more affluent residents are now about 1 percent higher than their post-2005 peak, while values in low-income ZIP Codes—which increased dramatically in the early 2000s—are still about 12 percent below their pre-recession peak. Moreover, home values in moderate-income ZIP Codes are still about six percent below their pre-recession peak (Figure 1). (In this analysis, low, moderate, and high-income ZIP Codes have a median household income less than 80 percent, between 80 and 120 percent, and above 120 percent of the state median income, respectively.)

Source: JCHS tabulations of Zillow Home Value Index data and ACS 2014 5-year data.

Moreover, home prices in low-income ZIP Codes are lagging both in recovered metropolitan areas as well as in metros yet to regain their peak price. Specifically, in recovered metros, 83 percent of high-income and only 65 percent of low-income ZIP Codes had median home values matching or exceeding their peak, a full 18-point difference. In metro areas within 15 percent of peak, but still below, 22 percent of high-income ZIP Codes have recovered relative to 9 percent of low-income ZIP Codes. In metropolitan areas furthest from peak—by one measure, those that remain hardest hit—only a sliver of low-income ZIPs (5 of 699) have recovered, compared with 37 of 899 high-income ZIP Codes (4 percent). In total, across the nation, 37 percent of high-income ZIP Codes have recovered, versus only 23 percent of low-income ZIP Codes (Figure 2).

Source: JCHS tabulations of Zillow Home Value Index data and ACS 2014 5-year data.

Extending the analysis to 2000 demonstrates why high-income ZIP Codes have been more likely to recover. Low-income ZIP Code home values increased tremendously during the housing boom, but a similarly harsh decline has made recovery more difficult, and has significantly weakened low-income ZIP Code home value gains since 2000 relative to high-income ZIPs. At peak, the median home value in low-income ZIP Codes more than doubled (increasing 101 percent) from January 2000 (Figure 3). The peak median value in high-income ZIP Codes increased only 82 percent. However, the post-recession decline wiped out a large share of the relative gains low-income ZIP Codes had made. In these ZIPs, median home values (as a percent of the January 2000 home value) dropped nearly 65 percent. In high-income ZIP Codes, the drop was 38 points. This precipitous decline, and a lagging recovery, have given high-income ZIPs a narrow edge in median home value increases overall. As of June 2016, median home values in high and low-income ZIPs were 84 and 76 percent, respectively, above their 2000 median home value.

Source: JCHS tabulations of Zillow Home Value Index data and ACS 2014 5-year data.

The overall trend varies somewhat when breaking ZIP Codes down into recovered and unrecovered metros. In recovered metros, median home value gains in high-income ZIP Codes have steadily outpaced those in low-income metros over time, sharply accelerating during the recovery (Figure 4). In unrecovered metros (which include nearly 70 percent of ZIP Codes in our sample), home values in low and high-income ZIP Codes have drawn about even in the long run (Figure 5). Figure 5 also shows that the metros worse off relative to past peaks are those where low-income ZIPs saw substantial home value gains relative to their initial home value and large declines during the recession. In these unrecovered metros, ZIP Codes in both categories have median home values about 79 percent above their 2000 values.

Source: JCHS tabulations of Zillow Home Value Index data and ACS 2014 5-year data.

Note: Percentage growth derived from nominal dollars.
Source: JCHS tabulations of Zillow Home Value Index data and ACS 2014 5-year data.

In an upcoming post, we’ll take a closer look one US metro that illustrates the uneven price recovery within its own ZIP Codes – San Francisco.

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