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City Center Homes Are on the Rise, But Why Have They Risen?

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It's no secret that people will pay a premium to be close to the center of everything. But that wasn't always the case. In 1980, the average price for a two bedroom home in the CBD was about $100,000 (not adjusted for inflation to today's dollars). If you went out 10 miles, you paid even more, which reflected a global preference to live in the suburbs with lots of space. Now, that scenario has flipped.

That can be seen in Chicago as well as many other cities. Gary Lucido crunched some numbers to see how the neighborhoods are faring. Dark red areas show a loss of 5.2%, and dark blue represents a gain of 127%. The south side and the far west did not perform as well as neighborhoods like Lincoln Square and North Center in the near west and near northwest.

Is there a larger trend that explains this shift in behavior?

According to our friends at Citylab, the answer can be found in an intense dislike of commuting. They report that economists Lena Edlund and Michaela Sviatchi of Columbia University and Cecilia Machado of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Brazilian think tank, believe that high-income households who have less free time are the ones who are driving the market up. In an attempt to get some of it back, they will pay more to save themselves the pain of getting to and from work on a daily basis.

To play devil's advocate, that may not be the case. We seem to have more time than ever. Nationally, we're working less than we did 40 and 70 years ago; 10.5% less compared to 1950, according to a report in The Atlantic.

Technology has afforded more free time, also enabling people to work together from remote locations. So theoretically, there is less of a need to be in the center of it all. Because you can be in the middle of things from anywhere.

So, what is it? Why do we want to be where the action is? Does it stem from a desire to be connected with people, at least by proximity? It likely boils down to a matter of overall convenience, where you can access everything faster. Or maybe we just like to see the same familiar strangers, or otherwise experience the transient bustle of life everyday.

·Where Chicago Home Prices Have Risen The Most [Chicago Now]
·Why the Wealthy Have Been Returning to City Centers [City Lab]
·The Myth That Americans Are Busier Than Ever [The Atlantic]