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Valuing the Suburbs: Why Some "Improvements" Lower Home Prices

A recent effort to precisely gauge how much a particular improvement will add to a home’s sale price reveals some surprising insights about the nature of the suburbs. Research shows that not all home improvements pay off—even some rather expensive ones. Hedonic modeling of recent sales data shows that characteristics such as professional offices and in-law suites can lower a suburban home’s price.

This article explores the reasons why certain property elements actually devalue a house. It argues that the neighborhood context may determine the relative value of some housing characteristics. In general, features that add to a property’s “urban intensity” can lower the sales price of single-family detached suburban homes.

The paper examines why suburban residents mostly resist changes that make their environment seem more like a city. It also considers what implications this resistance has for developers using New Urbanist design and suggests future research to better understand the market for denser and more urban suburbs.

Philadelphia’s Space In Between: Inner-Ring Suburb Evolution

Metropolitan regions have evolved into highly diverse areas in their demographic, socioeconomic, and housing patterns. The issue of declining inner-ring suburbs, however, has only recently begun to receive significant attention from urban scholars and policy makers. The fundamental concept of the inner-ring suburb rests on the notion of the space “in between” the inner city and outer-ring suburbs. In this article, we explore intra-metropolitan spatial differentiations and economic disparity between four sub-areas — the downtown, inner city, inner-ring suburbs, and outer-ring suburbs—via a case study of the Philadelphia metropolitan region. Our analysis confirms that inner-ring suburbs are increasingly vulnerable to socioeconomic decline and exhibit symptoms of decline similar to those found in inner cities (white flight, population loss, and increased poverty). Understanding the role and conditions of inner-ring suburbs is essential to creating effective metropolitan smart growth policies.

Latino New Urbanism: Building on Cultural Preferences

With characteristics differing from majority households, Latino growth is occurring at a time when California is torn between several urban development models—developing compact cities, preserving the environment, or increasing urban sprawl and slums. The central argument of this article is that Latinos’ cultural inclination to a lifestyle supportive of compact cities provides policymakers with a sustainable alternative that possesses a built-in consumer base. The development and advancement of compact cities in California may be dependent on the ability of policy makers to sustain and support the Latino lifestyle.

This article addresses city development policies that pressure Latinos to assimilate to the established US notion of appropriate space use and how they undercut the economic, social, and environmental benefits inherent in the Latino lifestyle. The article also illustrates the key role Latinos play in adapting and transforming existing neighborhoods to promote New Urbanist-type landscapes.

The Suburbanization of Disadvantage in Sydney: New Problems, New Policies

Australian cities have undergone the same rapid suburbanization process as North American cities with very similar consequences. As the Australian economy transforms from manufacturing to services like all other leading Western nations, the suburbanization process is creating very large differences in the economic opportunity structure and the essential quality of life of many of Australia’s largest urban areas. This paper examines the economic and structural dimensions of Australia’s suburbanization process and suggests fundamental policy reforms to address these issues.