Inglewood home values are soaring—blame the NFL stadium

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“Inglewood is to be the new home for the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers,” proclaims a listing for a three-bedroom home at the northern edge of the city, just a few miles from the colossal steel husk that will eventually become the world’s most expensive sports arena.

At the end of July, Curbed surveyed more than 80 online real estate listings in the city of Inglewood, where residents are preparing for the arrival of two major sports franchises two decades after the Lakers and Kings departed for the Staples Center in 1999. More than half of the listings mentioned the NFL stadium or the sprawling complex of apartments, restaurants, and retail businesses set to rise right next door.

One listing included just two photos: an exterior shot of a three-bedroom home and a flashy rendering of the future stadium, as if buying a house in Inglewood were equivalent to snagging a seat on the 45-yard line.

Inglewood’s massive new NFL stadium will open to the public in just two short years. Eventually it will be joined by a huge mixed-use development with more than 3,000 units of housing. The projects will thoroughly transform the 300 acres of land where the old Hollywood Park racetrack once stood.

But what about the city around it? Home values in Inglewood are rising quickly. Since January 2016—when the NFL agreed to let the Rams and Chargers relocate to Inglewood—the median price of homes in the city jumped 37.3 percent, according to data provided to Curbed by Zillow.

That’s roughly double the rate at which home values grewacross Los Angeles County, where prices climbed 18.7 percent over the same time period.

Inglewood home prices went up in the two years leading up to 2016 as well, but at a rate closer to that of the rest of the county: 17 percent, compared to a little under 15 percent countywide.

In less than seven years, the median price of a home in Inglewood has more than doubled.

It’s not just the stadium that’s enticing buyers, says Stuart Gabriel, director of the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

The arrival of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line, which is set to open next year, along with a proposed arena for the Los Angeles Clippers and new development in and around nearby LAX,could further inflate home values in the area.

The city’s location—close to the beach cities of the South Bay and emerging tech hubs on the Westside—may also be attracting new buyers.

“It’s really the last affordable, extremely well-located community,” says Gabriel.

At an open house in August, realtor Lori Penix showed a family from San Diego around a recently remodeled condo close to the city’s border with LA’s upscale Westchester neighborhood. Stepping across the fresh laminate floors of the living room, the prospective buyers asked whether it would be easy to get from Inglewood to Santa Monica once the Crenshaw/LAX Line opens.

“The station’s only about a mile away,” said Penix, encouragingly.

Scheduled to start service at the end of 2019, the light rail will link the city to the county’s growing rail network, connecting at its northern end to the Expo Line, which began ferrying riders between Downtown LA and Santa Monica in 2016.

Inglewood’s location has always made it a “hot market,” says realtor Janet Singleton, who has 27 years of experience selling homes in the area. But, she says, the stadium and future train “brought more visibility” to buyers who might once have focused their searches on more upscale Westside communities.

Penix, who lives in Inglewood, says buyers from outside the community who have preconceived notions about the city are often surprised by what they find.

“A lot of people come with a certain perception of what the neighborhood is,” she says, “and then they get here and they say, ‘Oh, okay, this is just like Mar Vista.’”

Property owners are reaping the benefits of new interest in the city. Homeowners in Inglewood collected higher profits when selling their residences in 2017 than those in any other city in Los Angeles County, according to sales data released by Zillow.

Those who sold last year did so for a price that was, on average, nearly 80 percent higher than what they paid. The median dollar amount that sellers pocketed in these sales was $186,500 above the last purchase price.

Part of that is because Inglewood sellers held on to their homes for longer than those selling in other areas, allowing more time for the value of those residences to appreciate. The typical Inglewood seller in 2017 had owned their home for 11.6 years, compared to a median of 9.7 years across all cities in the county.

The amount of time sellers have owned their homes can’t entirely explain the city’s rapid price growth. Homeowners in just three other LA County cities saw profits of more than 50 percent when selling in 2017.

But most Inglewood residents don’t stand to benefit from a hot real estate market—the majority of them are renters. Fewer than 35 percent of homes in the city are owner-occupied.

Many renters worry they won’t have a place in the “new Inglewood” that emerges once construction wraps up on major projects like the NFL stadium and the Crenshaw Line, says Woodrow Curry, a member of the tenant coalition Uplift Inglewood, a group that has advocated for citywide rent control and more affordable housing.

“We know how this plays out,” Curry says. “We’ve worked closely with people who have experienced this in their own communities, such as Boyle Heights, Silver Lake, Echo Park… this happens all over.”

Rents in Inglewood haven’t increased as quickly as home values, but that’s little consolation to tenants who’ve faced a 12.2 percent jump in rental prices since 2016, according to CoStar. Countywide, rents have risen 7.4 percent over the same time period.

“There’s undoubtedly going to be a displacement effect for existing residents,” Gabriel says.

Uplift Inglewood launched a ballot initiative earlier this year to bring rent control protections to the city, but the group wasn’t able to gather enough signatures to put the issue before voters in November.

With limits on rent increases unlikely, Curry says he wants city leaders to do more to bring new affordable and senior housing to Inglewood.

Inglewood hasn’t produced a single unit of affordable housing since the end of 2013, when all LA County cities were required to set housing goals for the next seven years, according to a report released earlier this year by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

“After not having investment in our community for so long, we welcome new development,” says Curry. “We just want that investment to be people and community centered.”

Inglewood has gone through dramatic changes before. Incorporated in 1908, it had a population of 1,536 in 1910. By 1930, after oil was discovered beneath its soil, the number of residents had increased more than tenfold, and that growth continued during and after World War II, fostered in part by the South Bay’s booming aviation industry.

Starting in the 1960s, the city underwent a different kind of change. As LA school districts made plans to desegregate and black and brown residents moved into neighborhoods once governed by racially exclusive covenants, white residents across LA began abandoning some of the region’s most central urban areas.

Inglewood was no exception.

In 1960, the city was more than 99 percent white and home to just 29 black residents, according to U.S. census data. By 1980, 57 percent of Inglewood residents were black and less than 30 percent were white. Between 1970 and 1980, the city lost almost 50,000 white residents while its overall population continued to rise.

Inglewood’s demographics continue to shift. Today, roughly 43 percent of residents are black, while more than 50 percent are Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gabriel says it’s hard to predict how new development will change the community that now makes up Inglewood because the largest projects are concentrated in a relatively small portion of the city.

“One contending vision is that the combination of Silicon Beach; rail infrastructure; investment coming from the airport, the stadium; and all the rest will ultimately cause a very real, substantive, integrated economic revitalization of Inglewood,” Gabriel says.

“But another possibility is that the stadium will be a self-contained island of economic activity—that people will drive in and out of the stadium from all parts of the LA basin, but that all this economic activity will not extend to the local Main Street.”

Whatever the long-term economic effects of the stadium turn out to be, there’s no question that real estate professionals are taking advantage of the excitement around its impending arrival.

Many listings seem targeted specifically at developers and speculative buyers. “Huge upside potential,” reads an ad for a small three-bedroom residence. “Calling investors,” says another listing, for a two-bedroom on the north side of the city.

Singleton says real estate investors are descending on the area, making it trickier for traditional buyers to close deals.

“Buyers have to be ready to compete,” she says. “They’re up against cash offers all the time.”

Residents who already own their homes also find themselves in a tight spot.

“Buyers who bought their first home in Inglewood are happy to hear what their home is worth,” Singleton says. “But their incomes have not tripled, so they can’t afford to buy up anywhere else.”

Penix says she has also noticed investor interest. But, she maintains, it’s not just the stadium driving buyers to the area.

“Maybe it’s because I live here, but I really feel like it’s like any other part of LA,” she says.

Whether it’s the stadium or other forces driving up real estate prices, Penix says residents have taken notice.

“Some people aren’t loving the changes,” she says. “They get upset when new people come in and try to steer the community, as if people haven’t been asking for the same things for years.”

Curry says he’s worried that more affluent residents will fundamentally alter the city’s identity.

“My fear is that Inglewood loses its spirit,” he says. “We have a history of being a great working-class city… when you change that, you change the spirit of the city.”

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