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The Suburbs’ Changing Demographics

Over the last decade, U.S. suburbs have become more racially and ethnically diverse—not to mention more Democratic, according to Redfin.com.

To get a better handle on this transition, the company studied data from the U.S. Census, along with Redfin’s housing market data and voting margins from the last three presidential elections.

Among key findings, in 2018, people of color comprised 28% of the suburban population nationwide, up from 26.2% in 2010, driven by 15.3% more people of color living in the suburbs over that time period. That same year, people of color made up 37.6% of the city population nationwide, flat from 37.7% in 2010, 5.2% more white people live in the suburbs than a decade ago.

In Las Vegas in 2018, people of color made up 40.2% of the suburban population, up from 30.5% in 2010. That was the largest uptick of any major U.S. metro. Salt Lake City and Seattle followed.

And with politics currently so hardwired into the public psyche, this year, the Democratic presidential candidate prevailed by 13.2% in the suburbs—a hike from 7.2 points in 2016 and 5.9 points in 2012. Democratic presidential candidates fared slightly better in cities, winning by14.7 points in 2016 and 14.9 points in 2012.

Meantime, in the suburbs, the price per square foot of homes parachuted 5.3% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2020. Last year, in the same quarter, it was up 4.2%. Price per square foot in urban areas jumped 5.3% year over year in the third quarter, a slight drop from 5.4% in the third quarter of last year.

People of color made up 37.6% of the population of cities nationwide in 2018, flat from 37.7% in 2010, with a 6.1% increase in the number of people of color living in cities. Most of the data in this report is from the U.S. Census; 2018 is the most recent publicly available data.

“I haven’t felt racial discrimination any of the three times I’ve purchased homes in the last six years,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “My parents had a much different experience in the 80s when they were looking for a home in Montecito, CA, a suburb of Santa Barbara. My mother toured houses without my dad because she learned she had a better chance of her offer being accepted as a white woman than as part of a biracial couple."

The arrival of the pandemic to America has caused numerous trends to appear in the housing industry, among which include increased demand for housing away from the big cities. A recent report posted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) analyzes this trend in the lower-density areas of America, as well as forecasts what the country’s housing market can expect moving forward.

One of the first questions posed—and answered—by the NAHB report addresses the subject of whether or not this trend of increased suburban demand is in fact a true change in demand or behavior, or if this shift the nation’s housing market is seeing is merely a continuation of the wave that was already in motion and simply accelerated due to the pandemic.

Richard Gollis commented on this phenomenon during NAHB’s recent The Future of Urban and Suburban Housing in the Wake of COVID-19 webinar:  “When we think about the conversation around suburban and urban development, it’s really thinking about the extent the trends are on the curve, or if this is really a shift.”

Gollis was serving as a moderator for the event and was joined by other various expert panelists from NAHB, CoStar, Zillow, and Toll Brothers Apartment Living, all of who presented vital information highlighting growing trends in today’s market.

About Author: Chuck Green

Chuck Green has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and others covering various industries, including real estate, business and banking, technology, and sports.
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