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April 15, 2011

Do Americans prefer walkable communities with public transit options over mass suburbia?

Yes.

It’s not just in progressive cities and towns, but nationally, home buyers prefer walkable, mixed-use communities over those burbs that require a car to get anywhere. According to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors, 56% of respondents prefer smart growth communities that have better access to work, schools and recreation. Walkable communities are defined as those where shops, restaurants, and local businesses are within walking distance from homes. According to the survey, when considering a home purchase, 77 percent of respondents said they would look for neighborhoods with abundant sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly features, and 50 percent would like to see improvements to existing public transportation rather than initiatives to build new roads and developments.

The survey also revealed that while space is important to home buyers, many are willing to sacrifice square footage for less driving. Eighty percent of those surveyed would prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it didn’t require a longer commute, but nearly three out of five of those surveyed — 59 percent — would choose a smaller home if it meant a commute time of 20 minutes or less.

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