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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.

  • Wealth: A few control almost all of it

    The richest people in the world are very, very rich.

    The fat cats at the top control nearly all the world's wealth, according a report from Oxfam, an anti-poverty group.

    The bottom two-thirds, meanwhile, own just a tiny sliver.

    Oxfam released the report ahead of the World Economic Forum, which called widening income inequality one of the greatest worldwide risks in the next 12 to 18 months.

    Pope Francis called on global leaders gathering MORE

    - Jan 22, 2014 9:47 AM ET
  • Where Americans stash their wealth

    Americans have gotten poorer over the past decade.

    The median net worth of American households came in at $68,828 in 2011, down from $81,821 in 2000 (in inflation-adjusted dollars) and far below the peak of $108,585 in 2005, according to recently released Census Bureau stats.

    The composition of that wealth has changed over time. Back when Ronald Reagan was president, home equity made up nearly half of young adults' net worth, while interest-earning accounts, MORE

    - Mar 22, 2013 12:24 PM ET
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  • Viral video shows how wealth is really distributed

    Think you know how wealth is distributed in America? Think again.

    A YouTube video that's gone viral recently shows that our perceptions of who has money and how much they have is quite skewed. The poor and middle class have a lot less than most people think, while the rich have a lot more. And the Top 1% are off the charts.

    The video, which has been viewed more than 3.8 million MORE

    - Mar 8, 2013 8:06 AM ET
  • Americans are earning more than their parents

    The good news: Americans are much more likely to have higher incomes than their parents. But just how much more depends greatly on their race, education and their parents' income level, according to new Pew Economic Mobility Project data.

    Some 83% exceed their parents' income by at least $1,000.

    Those born rich are more likely to greatly out earn their parents. For instance, 27% of those raised in the highest-income families made MORE

    - Feb 26, 2013 5:01 PM ET
  • Million dollar incomes on the rise again

    The number of millionaires in the U.S. is moving on up.

    There were nearly 268,000 tax filers who reported more than $1 million in adjusted gross income in 2010, according to a Tax Foundation analysis of Internal Revenue Service data.

    That's about 31,000 more than the previous year, but is still lower than the boom times. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of millionaires topped 300,000 annually.

    The vast majority of millionaire taxpayers MORE

    - Jun 18, 2012 7:53 AM ET
  • Who's got the money?

    Who makes the big bucks in America?

    Middle-aged white couples.

    We all know that income is concentrated in the United States, but Sentier Research has crunched the data to show just who has the money.

    Take a look at the breakdown by race:

    White households have an aggregate income of $6.2 trillion, while Hispanics have an aggregate income of $710 billion and blacks $641 billion. Asians, meanwhile, have $419 billion.

    To be sure, there are MORE

    - May 31, 2012 2:00 PM ET
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