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Opinion

January 23. 2014 10:25PM

Real Estate Corner: Survey says people prefer pedestrian-friendly communities

For Americans, it’s all about the neighborhoods.

Americans made two things very clear in the latest biennial Community Preference Survey by the National Association of Realtors: They want to live in walkable neighborhoods, and they care more about neighborhood than house size when deciding where to live.

Given the focus on neighborhood, the question becomes what kind of neighborhood do people prefer most?

According to the survey, it’s a suburban neighborhood with a mix of houses, shops and businesses. The kind of neighborhood they prefer least? A suburban neighborhood with houses only.

Those findings are among several survey results that show an affinity for mixed-use, walkability, compact development and other characteristics of smart growth. The 2013 survey of 1,500 people was conducted for NAR by American Strategies in conjunction with Myers Research and Strategic Services.

The number of people who preferred a mixed-use suburban neighborhood was nearly double the next leading choice of a rural area and nearly triple the number who preferred a suburban neighborhood with houses only.

The total responses for a preferred location to live were: suburban with a mix of uses, 30 percent; rural area, 16 percent; city near a mix of offices, apartments and shops, 15 percent; small town, 14 percent; and city mostly residential, 13 percent.

A detached single-family home was the preferred housing choice of 76 percent. More than half — 52 percent — preferred a detached single-family home with a big yard while 24 percent preferred a detached single-family home with a small yard.

But the preference for large lots versus compact development does not appear to be set in stone.

Most people said they would trade a big yard for a small yard if it meant living in a community where they would have a shorter commute to work (57 percent), could walk to schools, stores and restaurants instead of needing to drive (55 percent) or could walk to parks, playgrounds and recreation areas instead of needing to drive (53 percent).

Most (57 percent) would not, however, trade a detached single-family home for an apartment or townhome even if the apartment or townhome offered a short commute and was within walking distance of shops and restaurants.

If housing type is stripped from the equation, 60 percent preferred a neighborhood with a mix of houses, stores and other businesses within easy walking distance versus a neighborhood with houses only where they would have to drive to stores and other businesses.

People also put a high priority on walkability when they were asked to indicate the importance of 19 neighborhood characteristics when deciding where to live.

Sidewalks and places to walk were rated either very important or somewhat important by 80 percent of survey participants. High-quality public schools (rated very important/ somewhat important by 74 percent) came next, but was followed by being within easy walking distance of other places and things in the community (rated very important/somewhat important by 69 percent).

When asked to choose between a smart growth community and a traditional suburban community, 50 percent favored the smart growth community compared to 45 percent for the traditional suburban community (5 percent did not answer).

The smart growth community was defined as a place with a mix of housing types where schools, stores and services are within walking distance and there is nearby public transportation. The traditional suburban community was defined as a place with single-family homes only, where people need to drive to schools, businesses and services and public transportation is either distant or unavailable.

Being able to walk to schools, stores and services was the most appealing characteristic of the smart growth community for 64 percent of the people who preferred the smart growth community. It was also the most appealing characteristic of the smart growth community for 54 percent of those who preferred traditional suburban development.

This information is provided by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors and the New Hampshire Union Leader’s Advertising Department. If you have question, call 225-5549 or email Dave Cummings at dave@nhar.com.







Real Estate

Londonderry board rejects workforce housing variances

READER COMMENTS: 0

Following a lengthy public hearing Wednesday evening, the Londonderry Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously rejected several variances for a 288-apartment work force housing complex.

Executive Council postpones vote on condo docks proposal

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The New Hampshire Executive Council on Wednesday postponed a vote on property restrictions that would have allowed a Manchester condominium complex to build docks on the Merrimack River.

Hackett Hill housing project gets final nod from aldermen

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The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday gave final approval to redrawing the zoning map to allow the construction of multi-family residential housing on two parcels on Hackett Hill that had been...

Raymond selectmen reverse, place acres in outside hands

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Raymond selectmen rescinded a vote to place 145 acres of Flint Hill as a deed restriction and put it in a conservation esement instead.

Conflict arises over docks at Manchester riverfront condos

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A conflict raging at a Manchester riverfront condominium complex over docks, eagles and missing paperwork is scheduled to be played out in two public forums this month.

Building height restriction considered for Salem town center

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The Planning Board is considering bringing forward an amendment in March that would limit building heights in the town center to three stories or 45 feet.

Home & Garden

Home & Garden

The Villa Augustina School has stood empty since it closed in June.

Goffstown School Board abandons plans to buy, renovate Villa Augustina

READER COMMENTS: 0

Following a tour of the Villa Augustina School on Mast Road on Saturday, the Goffstown School Board has decided to not pursue purchasing and renovating the former Catholic school to address growing...

The Villa Augustina School has stood empty since it closed in June.

Goffstown School Board tours Villa Augustina School as purchase explored

READER COMMENTS: 0

Members of the Goffstown School Board, School Administrative Unit 19 Superintendent Brian Balke, and town residents toured the closed Villa Augustina School property on Saturday, hoping to get a...

Stayci Fast of Ivy Home & Garden in Windham make a kitchen island holiday display that includes flowering bulbs and spices at a home in Windham.

Professional designers talk about high-end trends in holiday decor

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Professional decorators share a glimpse of this year's high-end holiday trends

School district moves ahead on appraisal of Villa Augustina property

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The Goffstown School Board continued discussions on Monday night about the possibility of purchasing the former Villa Augustina School campus to address growing space needs in the district.

Fall color in Yellowstone National Park.

Nature photography a shared passion for Nashua couple

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A hobby became a passion and a career for the photographers Hudnall

The Planning Board recently OK'd a subdivision of the Rockingham Park property.

Planning board decision will clear path for sale of Rockingham Park parcel

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A parcel on the north side of the 170-acre property is under agreement for a sale to local developer and restaurant owner Joseph Faro.

Portsmouth's 1763 Moffatt-Ladd House will be decked out for its first Celebration of Wreaths and Trees this weekend.

Portsmouth events put a period on decorating

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Decorations help set the tone for most people's holiday experiences, which serves as the backdrop for two very unique and different events — one brand new, the other well into its fourth decade...

Susan Dromey Heeter's Down to Earth: From free events come great memories

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While driving to school with my daughter, we spotted one of those ancient television sets on the side of the road — the kind that worked not only as an entertainment center in the '60s and '70s...

Some gardeners won't be welcome at Salem community farm

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Overseeing Salem's community gardens at Hawkins Farm has come with its share of challenges over the past several years.

Salem zoning board says no to 2nd hearing for senior housing development on mausoleum property

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There will be no second hearing on a variance that would allow a senior housing development to be built on the property of a Pond Street mausoleum.

Diane Paul's hand-stitched leather work ranges from belts and bags to chaps and sleigh bells.

No machines for North Hampton leather artisan Diane Paul

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Diane Paul, 52, is a self-taught leather artist whose repertoire includes everything from sleigh bells to stick horses. She does everything by hand — everything.

Issues halt development of senior housing project in Salem

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The Planning Board has granted conditional approval of a 16-unit senior housing project off Pleasant Street.

Subdivision road work in Salem under scrutiny

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The issue came up recently when residents of the Deerfield Street subdivision wrote to selectmen asking for help in getting their road completed.