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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

Construction on reborn, expanded Balsams slated to start in June


DIXVILLE – Come June, Les Otten wants to begin construction on the Balsams Grand 2.0, the kind of world-class, destination resort, he said, that others are compared to, not with.

Jeremy Renner has listed a renovated house in Hollywood at $4.795 million.

Jeremy Renner house steeped in Hollywood history


Hot Property: Jeremy Renner house steeped in Hollywood history

Buying a new house before selling the old one


The Mortgage Professor: Buying a new house before selling the old one

An 1870s mill  was converted to house 50 affordable housing apartments in Milford in 2014.

Granite State population rebounding


The numbers are modest, but they indicate New Hampshire remains an attractive place to live.

This CVS store at 240 Main St. will soon be razed and reconstructed with a mezzanine and drive-through.

CVS receives green light to redevelop Nashua site


A prominent downtown parcel housed by CVS has received permission to reconstruct its pharmacy and build the store closer to Main Street.


Real Estate Corner: Reduce energy bills with smart technology


From “learning” thermostats to energy saving smartphone apps, it has never been easier to monitor and control your home's energy use.

Michael Capsalis, owner of Newfound Properties, the telephone company gave him a new business phone number that recently belonged to an international waste management company, for whom he says.he receives a dozen or so calls a day.

Businessman angry with new phone number still listed to another company


A local business owner is enraged because the telephone company gave him a new business phone number that recently belonged to an international waste management company, for whom he says.he receives...

State's marijuana laws debated


Bill would make possession of small amounts of pot and hashish a violation similar to speeding ticket.

Another offer on site eyed for public health facility


Another offer has been made on the Mulberry Street property under consideration as the future home of the Nashua Public Health Department.

Gladys A. White

Real Estate Corner -- Alternative to FHA financing: 3 percent down payment


Fannie Mae has introduced a 97 percent loan-to-value option for first-time buyers. This will allow buyers with acceptable credit to purchase their first home with a low down payment.

Gov. Hassan presents state budget proposal; budget would grow 6.4 percent over two years


Most of increase in Health and Human Services paid for by tobacco tax, business tax adjustment and auto registration fees.

State's home sales show promising January numbers


Home sales in New Hampshire last month hit their second highest monthly number since January 2006. But Realtors groups caution that more data is needed before the numbers can be considered a trend.

Drug addiction-recovery center looks to open location in Manchester


A drug addiction-recovery organization wants to open an eight-bed residential treatment center and eight-room transitional living center in vacant space on Webster Street.

Real Estate Corner: Buying a home with little or no money down


There are several programs available to purchase a home with little or no down payment needed.

Gateway Hills continues to expand in southern New Hampshire. Its developer is hopeful rail will further enhance the technology park.

Major developer Flatley gets behind new rail initiative


John J. Flatley, who developed the Nashua Technology Park now known as Gateway Hills, said this week that passenger rail would be a major boon to his industrial park.

New Hampshire, Vt. real estate companies combine


An international realty company with offices and service areas in central New Hampshire has merged with the largest real estate firm in Vermont, a merger that will help broaden the new combined...

State revenues for January $11.1m more than anticipated


State revenues for January were $11.1 million more than anticipated and $30 million to the good for the seven months of the fiscal year.

Report on forest may be hurdle for Sunapee resort


A report evaluating the condition of the forest on the "West Bowl" lands where Mount Sunapee officials hope to expand skiing operations recommends the state protect at least a portion of the property.

Home & Garden

Peterborough man buried under feet of snow for three hours after roof slide


PETERBOROUGH - An Old Street Road man was hospitalized Sunday evening after he was buried under two feet of snow for three hours.

Home & Garden

A rental home, among the properties handled by Blue Moose Vacations, offers a tranquil view Ossipee Lake.

Early summer rental benefit as winter takes its toll


This brutal winter got you down? Looking to escape? Well, many blizzard-battered New Englanders already have booked rental lodging hot spots around New Hampshire this summer, especially if their...

Its iconic footbridge and waterfall were backdrops for national reporters  covering the New Hampshire Primary, but the Wayfayer Inn and Conference Center in Bedford is being torn down, making way for a shopping center.

Who's who of national political reporters fondly remember Bedford's Wayfarer


As wrecking machinery tears apart the aging walls of the abandoned Wayfarer Inn, so too is a piece of New Hampshire history being laid to rest.

The former Villa Augustina School  in Goffstown.

Villa Augustina now under agreement; yes vote on Goffstown zoning critical


The former Villa Augustina School property is now under agreement with a potential buyer, bringing the former Catholic school property one step closer to a new identity.

Artist Gail Allen at work in her Hollis studio.

Hollis painter's vibrant works reflect her passion for her art


Gail Allen says her art is her way of telling stories.

Rosaly Bass of Peterborough has been named Gardener of the Year by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire.

Peterborough's Rosaly Bass named organic gardener of the year


Rosaly Bass of Peterborough has been named Gardener of the Year by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire.

Rob Schaefer, member of the Saint Claudine Villa Academy board, used this Play-Doh set as a prop for arguing in favor of a zone change for the Villa Augustina School.

Goffstown Planning Board hears argument to rezone Villa Augustina


At the Planning Board's Thursday public hearing for proposed zoning changes, resident Rob Schaefer argued that the Villa Augustina School property be re-zoned in order to make the property easier to...