A subject we have posted on previously – Is Suburbia Doomed? – received supporting evidence in a report on Morning Edition this morning. In an article entilted – Home Prices Drop Most in Areas with Long Commute – Kathleen Schalch reported that with falling housing prices “the ones with short commutes are faring better than places with long drives into the city. Some analysts see a pause in what has long been inexorable – urban sprawl.”
The story reports on areas around Washington where prices have fallen an average of 11 percent. However, in areas with commutes greater than an hour prices have fallen even more. Neighborhoods closer to Washington have in some cases had modest increases.
Morning Edition, April 21, 2008 · Economists say home prices are nowhere near hitting bottom. But even in regions that have taken a beating, some neighborhoods remain practically unscathed. And a pattern is emerging as to which neighborhoods those are.
The ones with short commutes are faring better than places with long drives into the city. Some analysts see a pause in what has long been inexorable – urban sprawl.
The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has been hit hard. Prices tumbled an average of 11 percent in the past year. That’s the big picture. But a look at Ashburn, Va., about 40 miles from the center of town, finds a steeper fall.
In parts of the county, housing prices have dropped 18 percent over that same period. New construction has ground to a halt.
Realtor Danilo Bogdanovic surveyed two rows of neat, new, brick townhouses on Falkner’s Lane. “These were selling for about $550,000 at the peak, which was about August ’05, and they’re selling right now for about $350,000,” Bogdanovic said. “Fifty percent of this community has been ether foreclosed on or is facing foreclosure.”
For residents who work in the city, their commute is around an hour on trouble-free days. But that can extend upward toward two hours.
At a recent auction of foreclosed homes north of Washington, in the Maryland suburbs, there weren’t many takers. All of the addresses are far from downtown, and average commute times are among the highest in the nation.
It’s a different story for properties that are closer to the city’s center – in areas of Montgomery County that are on the edge of Washington.
“When I have a listing in this neighborhood, there are often 40 to 60 people coming through the open houses,” said Pam Ryan-Brye, an agent with Long and Foster Real Estate.
Inside the city, median home prices are actually up 3.5 percent from a year ago.