California: More urban rentals, fewer suburban homes

Large mansion

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A new quarterly report out today shows some big changes in how people along the West Coast live. Namely a shift in California -- fewer people are buying big houses in the suburbs and instead, they're renting in cities for much longer. The UCLA Anderson Forecast just released the study a few moments ago.

And Jerry Nickelsburg is one of the authors of the report. Good morning.

JERRY NICKELSBURG: Good morning. How are you?

CHIOTAKIS: Doing well. Your study says there will be more urban apartments being built and fewer single family homes. Why are people choosing to rent rather than buy?

NICKELSBURG: For two reasons -- one is in the housing bust, you had a lot of people who lost their homes. And so they're going to rent. And if you're going to rent, typically you rent closer to work. The second reason is that there's a large cohort that's now moving into household formations that's in their 20s. And people in their 20s demand multifamily housing closer to work.

CHIOTAKIS: Now I can see how more apartments and fewer homes would be bad for the housing market say, but construction is construction right?

NICKELSBURG: Construction is not construction. It takes fewer workers to build a multifamily unit than it does a single family unit. The other thing that's significant is that the multifamily housing will be closer to the major employment centers. That's closer to the coast. And the construction workers are living out in inland California where the big housing developments were being built in the last decade. So we've got a geographical shift here that does not bode well for recovery.

CHIOTAKIS: Is this economic trend, Jerry, where the rest of the nation is going as well?

NICKELSBURG: We've seen the shift to multifamily housing for those two reasons in the rest of the nation as well. And so even though the coast may be growing rapidly, it's still a drag. Ultimately it resolves itself, but that's going to take some years.

CHIOTAKIS: Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist at UCLA's Anderson Forecast. Jerry thank you.

NICKELSBURG: You're quite welcome.

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