Gentrification is either a dirty word or something wonderful depending on who you ask. One of the best examples of gentrification locally is the Oak Park area of Sacramento. Let’s take a deeper look at this neighborhood that is in the process of change. I’d love to hear your take in the comments below.
Seriously, $428,000? When telling a few locals on Twitter last week that a property on 34th Street recently sold for $428,000, the responses were mostly, “What the heck? Really? Wow!!” I know that doesn’t sound like much for certain areas of the country, but it gives pause for Oak Park because it seems symbolic of what is happening in the neighborhood as well as indicative of values that have risen dramatically in recent years.
What is gentrification? According to Merriam Webster, it is the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.
1) Neighborhoods Have Life Cycles:
Growth: A period during which there are gains in public favor and acceptance. Demand increases.
Stability: A period of equilibrium without marked gains or losses. No real obvious change.
Decline: A period of diminishing demand and acceptance.
Renewal: A period of rejuvenation and rebirth of market demand.
2) The Good & Bad: Blight needs to be cleaned up, so it’s a good thing when that begins to happen in neighborhoods. However, it’s a bad thing when native residents are displaced because they can no longer afford the neighborhood.
An Example of Gentrification: The Oak Park area of Sacramento has been gentrifying for more than a decade. In some portions of the neighborhood there are signs of revitalization as residential properties are rehabbed, chain link fences are removed, and commercial businesses along Broadway are starting to attract outsiders (which is something that rarely happened in previous years). Overall a shift in attitude is taking place, and that is being reflected with greater demand and higher home prices. There are “gentrification pockets” so to speak in various areas of Oak Park, but not all areas.
Here are all Oak Park sales over the past 6+ years. This graph shows all portions of Oak Park including North Oak Park (not Med Center). These are residential sales from MLS (no private sales). The highest sale in Oak Park recently closed at $428,000. On one hand this sale is higher than anything else, and that gives us pause, but on the other hand it is larger in size and new homes tend to command a value premium.
Med Center Thoughts: North Oak Park has been a very hot market, and some would say the line between Med Center and North Oak Park has been blurred in recent years, meaning higher values of the Med Center area have trickled throughout North Oak Park. If you are a buyer, would you pay a premium for Med Center or do you not care? As an appraiser I like to graph Med Center separately because some properties in Med Center can still command a premium. However, the graph does show the highest prices in Oak Park are more readily competing with Med Center prices.
SNL’s Gentrification Skit: By the way, if you haven’t seen Saturday Night Live’s skit on gentrification, they nailed it. Watch below (or here). There is some language, so be careful about kids being present.
Questions: Any thoughts, stories, or points to share? I’d love to hear your take. How has your perception of Oak Park changed over the past decade? Do you think there is a price difference between Med Center and North Oak Park? What are the strengths and weaknesses of gentrification?