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More people will soon move closer to cities, expert predicts

More people likely to move to higher-density neighborhoods closer to work.

More people likely to move to higher-density neighborhoods closer to work.

The lifestyles of aging baby boomers and their adult children will likely mean many people moving into urban neighborhoods close to city centers, according to Urban Land Institute (ULI) Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips.

In a keynote address at this week's National Association of Real Estate Editors' conference, Phillips cited a 2010 ULI housing trends study that demonstrated both these demographic groups have similar priorities when it comes to real estate. They are looking for shorter commutes and higher-density, eco-friendly living.

This means relocation away from "exurbs," already suffering from high rates of foreclosure, to neighborhoods closer to city cores.

A 2004 New York Times article on the rise of exurban living described a primary benefit as more house for the money, with primary drawbacks being long commutes and civic service development unable to keep pace with population growth. Now the trend is predicted to reverse itself, with people moving to smaller spaces in areas where public transportation is reliable.

The New York Times article described an exurban Texas community trying to build itself up from scrub land; in his keynote address, Phillips said, "Real estate's next frontier is not about what hasn't been developed. It's about what can be made better."