Latest Consumer Preference Survey, from NAR’s Smart Growth Program

This is a guest blog post by Hugh Morris, NAR’s Manager of Smart Growth Programs.

On October 31st, NAR’s Smart Growth Program released the latest version of its Consumer Preference Survey, which aims to shed light on the characteristics that people desire in their neighborhood and the trade-offs folks are willing to make to live in that preferred setting. At its core, the survey pits a traditional suburban community with separated-land uses necessitating driving to destinations vs. a smart growth community with a mix of land uses where walking, biking, and transit are viable for most trips. We also asked a battery of questions on various transportation modes and the respondents’ use of these modes and inclination to fund various modes.

The lead story out of the survey: 60 percent of respondents favor a neighborhood with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses that are easy to walk to, rather than neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.

Many Americans see the benefits of both a single-family detached house as well as a walkable neighborhood. There is a desire for the closeness and convenience that come from communities where walking is easy, and errand and commute times are short. 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. Specifically:

  • A majority of respondents prefer houses with small yards and easy walks to schools, stores and restaurants over houses with large yards where you have to drive to get to schools, stores and restaurants (55 percent to 40 percent).
  • An even larger majority prefers houses with smaller yards but a shorter commute to work over houses with larger yards but a longer commute to work (57 percent to 36 percent).
  • However, when given a choice between a detached, single-family house that requires driving to shops and a longer commute to work and an apartment or condominium with an easy walk to shops and a shorter commute to work, a strong majority prefer the single-family home even with the longer commute (57 percent to 39 percent).

With the scars of the recession still fresh, Americans place a higher priority on the availability of affordable housing than in our 2011 survey (+8 points, from 51 to 59 percent “high priority”) and housing opportunities for people with moderate and low incomes (+11 points, from 46 to 57 percent “high priority”).

The graphs below present other key findings; for the full report visit: Consumer Preference Survey

TJ Doyle

Thomas “T.J.” Doyle is the Director of Social Media for NAR’s Communications Division. T.J. Doyle oversees NAR’s social media content, campaigns, and initiatives aimed at building and promoting online communities of value to NAR and its members. In his role, he advises and provides guidance to other NAR departments as how to best capitalize on opportunities for enhanced engagement on issues of interest to NAR and its membership. T.J. monitors and tracks NAR’s social media engagement efforts through a variety of software and programs, providing monthly reports to senior management team regarding engagement trends and relevant online conversations and actions taking place on blogs and other social media sites. Through this analysis of digital analytics the association’s social presence can evolves to best serve membership. T.J. has been at NAR for 10 years, previously serving as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Research Division. In that role, he focused on marketing the products and services the Research Division produces to members and non-members alike, while also overseeing the Research Division’s social media presence, promoting NAR Research to members, state and local associations, the media, Congressional staffers, and other real estate-related industry groups. T.J. is a proud graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and is currently pursuing a Masters from Georgetown University in Public Relations and Corporate Communications.

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