By Laura Kusisto | The Wall Street Journal
Home buyers, often millennials, are looking farther away for affordable housing, even if that means a long commute
The exurbs, the engine of the American housing market, are back.
A decade ago, the sight of new homes under construction in Maricopa, an enclave of tidy cul-de-sacs 35 miles from downtown Phoenix, was almost unimaginable. Four in five homeowners were underwater, with their outstanding mortgages worth more than their properties, according to housing data tracker Zillow. Neighbors felt compelled to cut the hedges and clean up garbage at empty houses.
Last year, Maricopa issued permits for nearly 1,000 new homes. In the depths of the housing downturn, in 2010, it issued just 110.
Across the country, the housing market overall has slowed. But in the regions just beyond the affluent suburbs, new home building and sales are showing signs of life. Rising mortgage rates and home prices, especially in urban centers, are once again motivating buyers to drive until they can afford a home, including in Dallas, Las Vegas, Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay Area. Low gas prices help as well.