In The News

Opportunity Zone Redevelopment Areas Still Reaping Benefits of National Home-Price Boom

ATTOM released its second-quarter 2021 Opportunity Zones report analyzing qualified low-income zones established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In this report, ATTOM looked at 5,236 zones across the United States with sufficient sales data to analyze, meaning they had at least five home sales in the second quarter of 2021.

The report found that median single-family home prices increased from the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021 in 75 percent of Opportunity Zones and rose by at least 15 percent in about half of them. Price patterns in Opportunity Zones continued to roughly track trends in other areas of the U.S., even surpassing them in some ways, much as they did in the first quarter of this year.

Home values in Opportunity Zones did continue to lag well behind the national median of $305,000 in the second quarter of 2021. About three-quarters of the zones with enough data to analyze had typical second-quarter prices below the national figure. Some 39 percent also still had median prices of less than $150,000 in the second quarter of this year. But that was down from 47 percent a year earlier as values inside some of the nation’s poorest communities kept surging ahead with the broader national housing market, despite the Coronavirus pandemic remaining a threat to the U.S. economy.

Even as the national economy was gradually recovering during the Spring of 2021 from the economic damage that came after the pandemic hit early last year, the impact continued to hit hardest in lower-income communities that comprise most of the zones targeted for tax breaks designed to spur economic redevelopment. Nevertheless, Opportunity Zones largely kept pace with national home-price trends as increases roughly paralleled the nationwide boom now in its 10th year.

Opportunity Zones are defined in the Tax Act legislation as census tracts in or along side low-income neighborhoods that meet various criteria for redevelopment in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Census tracts, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, cover areas that have 1,200 to 8,000 residents, with an average of about 4,000 people.

“Housing markets kept chugging along in some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods during the second quarter of this year in another sign that the decade long home-price boom across the nation knows pretty much no boundaries. Values kept rising inside specially designated Opportunity Zones at around the same rate as they did in other areas even as the Coronavirus pandemic continued causing economic hardship,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM. “For sure, property values in Opportunity Zones remain depressed. But the price spikes there not only suggest that those communities are a very viable option for households priced out of more-upscale neighborhoods. They also indicate the ongoing potential for the economic revival that underpins the Opportunity Zone tax breaks.”

High-level findings from the report include:

  • Median prices of single-family houses and condominiums rose from the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021 in 2,901 (75 percent) of the Opportunity Zones with sufficient data to analyze and increased in 2,916 (64 percent) of the zones from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year. By comparison, median prices rose annually in 81 percent of census tracts outside of Opportunity Zones and quarterly in 70 percent of them. (Of the 5,236 Opportunity Zones included in the report, 3,850 had enough data to generate usable median prices in the second quarters of both 2020 and 2021; 4,577 had enough data to make comparisons between the first quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2021).
  • Measured year over year, median home prices rose at least 15 percent in the second quarter of 2021 in 2,011 (52 percent) of Opportunity Zones with sufficient data. Prices rose that much during that time period in 51 percent of other census tracts throughout the country.
  • Opportunity Zones did even better when comparing areas where prices rose at least 25 percent from the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021. Measured year over year, median home prices rose by that level in 1,366 (35 percent) of Opportunity Zones but in only 30 percent of census tracts elsewhere in the country.
  • Typical home values in four of every 10 Opportunity Zones increased annually in the second quarter of 2021 by more than the 22-percent increase in the overall national single-family median home price during that time period.
  • Among states with at least 20 Opportunity Zones, those with the largest percentage of zones where median prices rose, year over year, during the second quarter of 2021 included New Hampshire (median prices up, year over year, in 95 percent of zones), Massachusetts (94 percent), Idaho (91 percent), Utah (90 percent) and Arizona (89 percent).
  • Of all 5,236 zones in the report, 2,021 (39 percent) still had median prices in the second quarter of 2021 that were less than $150,000 and 914 (17 percent) had medians ranging from $150,000 to $199,999. The total percentage of zones with typical values below $200,000 was down from 65 percent in the second quarter of 2020 to 56 percent in the second quarter of 2021.
  • Median values in the second quarter of 2021 ranged from $200,000 to $299,999 in 1,081 Opportunity Zones (21 percent) while they topped the national median of $305,000 in 1,183 (23 percent).
  • The Midwest continued in the second quarter of 2021 to have the highest portion of Opportunity Zone tracts with a median home price of less than $150,000 (63 percent), followed by the South (45 percent), the Northeast (41 percent) and the West (6 percent).
  • Median household incomes in 88 percent of Opportunity Zones were less than the medians in the counties where they were located. Median incomes were less than three-quarters of county-level figures in 56 percent of zones and less than half in 16 percent.