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Housing inequality: The tale of two communities

February 28, 2014: 6:00 AM ET

Nowhere is the divide between rich and poor more apparent than in the backyard.

Home values in the top 10% wealthiest communities are worth more than six times that in the bottom 40%, a new survey has found.

Put another way, these rich communities hold nearly 52% of housing wealth, compared to only 8% owned by the lower rungs, according to The Demand Institute, which assessed 2,200 largest communities across the nation. The institute, which is operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen, looked at total market value of owner-occupied housing in these cities, towns and villages, which are home to half of the nation's residents.


Institute researchers were surprised by the depth of the divide that exists among communities in the U.S.

"You see a real concentration of wealth in a few places," said Louise Keely, the institute's chief research officer.

Wealthier communities have also weathered the housing collapse better. The total home value of this group rose 73% between 2000 and 2012, compared to 59% for the bottom rungs.


The institute identified what it called Affluent Metroburbs, which are established, wealthy communities near big cities. These include Pinecrest, Fla., Madison, N.J. and Laguna Hills, Calif.

It also designated other locales as Endangered Communities, which are truly distressed areas with weak housing markets and severe socioeconomic problems. These include Decatur, Ill., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and Gainesville, Texas.

For more information on the nine different community profiles and specific information on the cities within them, check out the institute's report.

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