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The Coming Luxury Urban Bust? Maybe.


For years we’ve heard a familiar refrain: everyone (especially the wealthy retired Baby Boomer) is moving back into the cities, and suburbs are dying. This thesis has driven an unprecedented boom in luxury real estate in key urban cores, including San Francisco, New York and Houston.

Not so fast, says the Daily Beast. The data only shows a brief period in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession where cities were growing faster. Two years ago, suburbs once again started to surge, according to economist Jed Kolko.

Also, it wasn’t wealthy retirees who had a magic desire to go back to cities. According to the data, they still love the suburbs. The boom in luxury real estate was instead driven by foreign investors from regions including China and the Middle East, who put an unprecedented amount of money into American real estate as a form of investment.

San Francisco was singled out as being the most overheated luxury market in the country. Real estate in the Bay Area frequently follows the state of the tech market and has experienced dramatic appreciation over the past decade.

The Bay Area faces a double whammy. Chinese investors who account for more than 30% of buyers in some local suburbs are pulling back while tech billions have evaporated in the public markets. In the face of these challenges and demographic reality, will suburban development once again become en vogue? [TDB]

Related Topics: Housing Bubble