Study: Consumers Want Smart Growth
Some good news for smart growth advocates: a new report released by the National Association of Realtors indicates that Americans favor mixed-use walkable neighborhoods over those that necessitate more driving. More than three-quarters of those surveyed for the report said they would look for neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and half of the respondents stated that they would prefer to see improvements to existing public transportation over new road construction.
Furthermore, the survey indicates that while most Americans would prefer to live in detached single-family homes (generally for privacy reasons), they would “choose a smaller home and smaller lot if it would keep their commute time to 20 minutes or less.” This result is highly significant: Americans place such a high value on walkable neighborhoods with shops, restaurants, and local businesses that they would be willing to sacrifice home size.
Smart Growth America’s discussion on the report quotes Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, as saying “NAR’s survey reveals what many real estate developers are seeing across the country: smart growth strategies are the best way to meet market demand for walkable neighborhoods with shorter commutes, diverse housing options and transportation choices. Demographic shifts in the United States along with the changing consumer preferences highlighted in NAR’s survey illustrate that consumers want neighborhoods with more walkable housing and transportation choices.”
This study is a reminder of a major economic benefit of smart growth. Americans’ desire for mixed use walkable communities can contribute to a rise in property values in neighborhoods that meet this demand. This, of course, is in addition to the many other advantages of smart growth practices, including benefits to the environment, public health, and local businesses.