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As Central City Options Dwindle, More Homebuyers Are Looking to Suburbs

High prices and low inventory push owners away from urban core

Although recent years have seen a boom in downtown and urban-core home-buying in Austin, it will come as a surprise to few that the trend now seems to be moving in the other direction.

An influx of highly paid workers, a lack of home inventory, and a failure to preserve or create much, if any, affordable housing are all probable contributors to the phenomenon. According to numbers released by national real estate brokerage Redfin, however, the Austin area is an especially vivid case of the trend—second only to Ventura County, Calif., in number of buyers who have moved farther from the urban area in the past four years.

According to Redfin, homes sold in Austin last year were likely to be 12.3%, or 1.6 miles, farther from the city center than they were in 2011.

While the post cited a National Association of Homebuilders survey that shows that nationally only 12% of homebuyers want to live in an urban core, it also noted that millennials are moving to city centers at a faster pace—a fact that jibes with recent reports in Curbed and elsewhere of young tech workers seeking microhousing and other alternatives in order to remain central in certain cities, including Austin.

That doesn't mean those downtown-favoring millennials are buying homes, however; Curbed and other sites have also reported that the age group is nervous about buying or that its potential buyers simply doesn't have the money or credit to do so.

There's another crucial point to be made about the seemingly contradictory trends, according to Redfin. The site notes that, while educated millennials flock toward central cities, a substantial number of the same group with less education move outward.

Another result of that trend, reports Redfin, which also will come as no surprise to most who live in these cities, is that urban core populations are becoming whiter and more educated—as well as boomer- and millennial-heavy—pushing out those with less opportunity or income out to more affordable areas.

Homebuyers Are Bucking the Urban Revival as ‘Burbs Beckon [Redfin]

NAHB Study Reveals the Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation [NAHB]

High-Tech Millennial Lifestyle Inspires Micro Apartment Boom [Curbed]

Millennials Have Crisis in Confidence Over Homeownership [Curbed]