Half of Homebuyers and Sellers Oppose Housing Density

August 2, 2019
large apartment building
Photo: Unsplash/Michael Black Ritter

A new survey from Redfin found that 53% of homebuyers and sellers support limiting housing density in their neighborhoods, while only 27% support policies that enable increasing density. 

When the responses are broken down by race, some interesting differences come to light. African American homebuyers and sellers are equally as likely to support dense housing in their area as they are to oppose it, with 39 percent supporting policies that encourage density and 39 percent supporting those that limit it. By contrast, white homebuyers and sellers’ responses fall in line with the overall results, with 56 percent in opposing housing density in their neighborhood and 23 percent supporting dense housing nearby.

“People who don’t want dense housing in their neighborhood often reason that they don’t want to see the character of their neighborhood change,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Minorities, however, may be less likely to have sentimental feelings about the types of housing that characterize their neighborhoods because zoning policies have often contributed to racial inequality through segregation. However, the minorities who do oppose dense zoning may be opposed to the gentrification that accompanies dense luxury condos and apartments.”

You might suspect that it’s just wealthier people who want to limit density and that the difference in sentiment between the racial groups is due to the income inequality between black and white families. However, income does not explain most of the difference in density sentiment across racial groups. When you break down the results by income, homebuyers and sellers in every income bracket were far more likely to oppose density than to support it.

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