Taken from Forbes.com
LOS ANGELES – Just months ago, urban revivalists could see the rosy dawn of a new era for America’s cities. With rising gas prices and soaring foreclosures hitting the long-despised hinterland, urban boosters and their media claque were proclaiming suburbia home to, as the Atlantic put it, “the next slums.” Time magazine, the Financial Times, CNN and, of course, The New York Times all embraced the notion of a new urban epoch.
Yet in one of those ironies that markets play on hypesters, the mortgage crisis is now puncturing the urbanists’ bubble. The mortgage meltdown that first singed the suburbs and exurbs, after all, was
largely financed by Wall Street, the hedge funds, the investment banks, insurers and the rest of the highly city-centric top of the paper food chain.
So, now we can expect some of the biggest layoffs and drops in income next to be found in the once high-flying urban cores. In New York alone, Wall Street has shed over 25,000 jobs–and the region could shed a total of 165,000 over the next two years.
Not surprisingly, the property crisis once seen as the problem of the silly, aspiring working class and the McMansion nouveaus has now spread deep into the bailiwick of the urban sophisticates. For the first time in years, many Manhattan apartments are selling for well below purchase price, something unheard of during the boom. In Brooklyn, a 24% drop in sales over the last three months even has boosters talking of an imminent “Brownstone bust.”
Even San Francisco–arguably the most recession-resistant big city due to its large concentration of nonprofits and “trustifarians”–is seeing prices drop for the first time in years. Far more vulnerable are fledgling neo-urban markets like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Oakland, Calif., San Diego, Memphis, Tenn., Miami and Dallas. Sales are down in most of these markets, as are prices.
Signs of the times: desperate developers offering goodies to buyers. One downtown Los Angeles property owner has even offered to buy a Mini Cooper for anyone bold enough to buy a loft. Others, in Oakland, Boston and Atlanta, are resorting to auctions to offload their product. Foreclosures have taken place in several other markets, including Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia.