Some neighborhoods sparkle with luxury properties and BMWs. In others, terms like “country club” and “summer home” rarely pass from residents’ lips. Somewhere in between is a rarer type of community, residential oases where silver spooners and the working class live side by side, enjoying what tend to be the the same safe streets and and highly ranked schools.

  • "For homebuyers, it’s not impossible" to find economically diverse places to live, just "really hard," Redfin says.
  • Places with a balanced mix of home prices cover just 13 percent of major U.S. cities, according to a study released by Redfin.

  • This is cause for concern because economic segregation by neighborhood stunts economic mobility.

Some neighborhoods sparkle with luxury properties and BMWs. In others, terms like “country club” and “summer home” rarely pass from residents’ lips.

Somewhere in between is a rarer type of community, residential oases where silver spooners and the working class live side by side, enjoying what tend to be the the same safe streets and and highly ranked schools.

“For homebuyers, it’s not impossible to find these places,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at high-tech brokerage Redfin, in a statement. “But it’s really hard.”

That’s the key takeaway of a study released by Redfin on economic integration. It found that places with a balanced mix of home prices cover 13 percent of major U.S. cities.

Boston topped the list of the most economically integrated of the 20 major U.S. cities that Redfin look at, with 51 percent of the city having a balanced home-price mix, followed by Seattle (31 percent) and Washington, D.C. (30 percent).

Philadelphia (11 percent), Baltimore (11 percent) and San Francisco (10 percent) showed up near the bottom of the list, with Columbus (4 percent), Indianapolis (6 percent) and Detroit (7 percent) ranking the lowest.

Cities with low economic integration can be either predominantly affordable or predominantly expensive. Baltimore and San Francisco, for example, are economically segregated in opposite ways.

Middle-income San Francisco families can’t afford about 88 percent of San Francisco homes, while middle-income Baltimore families can afford 86 percent of Baltimore homes, Redfin found.

City Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Boston 51% 35% 15%
Seattle 31% 10% 59%
Washington, DC 30% 25% 45%
San Jose 24% 53% 24%
Denver 24% 7% 69%
San Diego 20% 40% 40%
Los Angeles 19% 74% 7%
Chicago 17% 5% 79%
Austin 16% 11% 73%
Phoenix 13% 11% 76%
Houston 12% 16% 72%
Philadelphia 11% 6% 82%
Baltimore 11% 3% 86%
San Francisco 10% 88% 2%
San Antonio 8% 5% 88%
Memphis 8% 4% 88%
Jacksonville 7% 3% 90%
Detroit 7% 1% 92%
Indianapolis 6% 2% 92%
Columbus 4% 1% 95%

Redfin also drilled down to the neighborhood level, flagging the five most economically integrated neighborhoods in each city (see charts at bottom).

The results of Redfin’s study are cause for concern because economic segregation tends to stunt economic mobility, experts say.

Why?

“Communities with a mix of homes and prices help improve economic opportunity and inclusion for all residents,” Richardson said. “When families of varying socioeconomic standing live in the same place, everyone enjoys the same safe streets and highly ranked schools.”

Some experts have expressed concern that property search tools may exacerbate economic divides between neighborhoods by mixing local data, like crime and school ratings, into the real estate search experience.

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Redfin measured the economic diversity of areas by tagging millions of properties as either affordable or high-end based on a property’s sale price and the purchasing power of a local-median income family. The brokerage then rated each city and neighborhood as either mostly affordable, mostly high-end or a blend of the two based on the mixture of affordable and pricey homes.

“If an area had more than three affordable houses or condominiums sold for every expensive one, we labeled it affordable,” Redfin wrote in a blog post. “Areas with more than three pricey homes sold to every economical one were considered high-end. In between were the balanced areas, with a wide range of home prices.”

Boston
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Highland Park (Roxbury) 79% Bay Village 100% Uphams Corner 79%
Egleston Square 75% Back Bay 100% Hyde Park 68%
Mission Hill 65% North End / Waterfront 100% Mattapan 65%
Hyde Square-Jackson Square 64% Beacon Hill 93% Bowdoin Ave Area (Dhrchester) 64%
South End 90% Franklin Field 60%
Seattle
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Eastlake 89% Broadmoor 80% Beacon Hill 100%
Ravenna 86% Montlake 72% International District 100%
U District 82% Laurelhurst 71% Victory Heights 100%
Alki 69% Madison Park 69% Columbia City 100%
Queen Anne 61% Windermere 50% Yesler Terrace 100%
Washington
DC
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Columbia Heights 100% The Palisades 100% Fort Davis 100%
West End 100% Spring Valley 92% River Terrace-Lily
Ponds-Mayfair
100%
Adams
Morgan / Kalorama Heights / Lanier Heights
92% Foxhall Crescent 87% Lamond-Riggs 100%
Petworth 88% Chevy Chase 85% Deanwood 100%
Barney Circle 85% West Village (Georgetown) 81%
San Jose
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Almaden 97% Alum Rock 62%
Willow Glen 84% Downtown 50%
Cambrian Park 80%
Blossom Hill 65%
Evergreen 64%
Denver
Balanced Mix Area High-end Area Affordable Area
Platt Park 100% Bonnie Brae 100% Westwood 100%
Highland 97% Country Club 64% Cole 100%
Jefferson Park 88% Washington Park 62% Green Valley Ranch 100%
Sloan Lake 76% Belcaro 54% Ruby Hill 100%
West Highland 75% Cherry Creek 50% Clayton 100%

Email Teke Wiggin.

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