NAR: Mixed-Use, Walkable Communities the American Ideal

American consumers prefer walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and shorter commutes when choosing a community, reveals the National Association of Realtor’s 2013 Community Preference Survey, but a majority still prefer single-family homes above apartments or condos.

Six in 10 respondents favored a neighborhood with a mix of houses, stores, and other businesses within walking distance rather than neighborhoods that require more driving time between home, work and recreation. 

Suburban neighborhoods with that housing and shopping mix ranked as Americans’ ideal community, with the least-preferred community being a suburban neighborhood with just houses. 

Given a choice between a detached single-family home that requires driving to shops and longer work commutes versus an apartment or condominium in a walkable location and a shorter commute, however, 57% of respondents chose the single family home, compared to 39% preferring the apartment or condo. 

“Americans are somewhat conflicted in their priorities and value structure when it comes to choosing their ideal community. On the one hand, there is a desire for the closeness and convenience that come from communities where walking is easy, and errand and commute times are short,” says NAR. “On the other hand, Americans overwhelmingly prefer to live in single-family, detached homes – even if that means driving more and a longer commute to work.”

While size matters in terms of square footage, many consumers are willing to compromise size for a preferred neighborhood and less commuting, according to the survey. More than half (52%) expressed a preference for a single-family detached house with a large yard, but 78% said that the neighborhood is more important to them than the size of the house. 

“Realtors build communities and care about improving those communities through smart growth initiatives. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, smart growth is typically characterized by mixed-use development, higher densities, and pedestrian friendly streets that accommodate a wide diversity of transportation modes,” said NAR President
Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif., in a statement. “Growth patterns, economic development and quality-of-life issues are inextricably linked to the success of communities and residents.”

American Strategies and Meyers Research conducted the survey on 1,500 Americans in September 2013 on behalf of NAR. 

Access the executive summary. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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