Markets & Economy

Another sign of housing recovery: New homes going up again in the exurbs

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When the housing bubble burst, some of the hardest-hit markets around the nation were the "exurbs" -- bedroom communities built far from job centers in high-cost housing markets to provide single-family homes for workers who are willing to become road warriors. A poster child for the phenomenon was Mountain House, Calif., a community of 12,000 people an hour's drive northeast of Silicon Valley that sprang up almost overnight. In 2008, Mountain House had the highest percentage of homes with negative equity in the entire nation -- 9 out of 10 homeowners were underwater, by an average of $120,000. The situation was also dicey for many homeowners in nearby Tracy, Calif., a more established city five miles down the road that also saw explosive price appreciation and depreciation during the boom-bust cycle. Today, with home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area skyrocketing -- home values in the neighborhoods most in demand were hardly dented by the downturn -- Tracy is booming ag...