People buying or building new homes are bringing new values and priorities with them. This means that features such as energy efficiency, walkability, and community have all become important for new custom homes. While some of these features are easier to achieve than others, they are changing the face of urban design and forcing planners, developers, city officials, and civic leaders to use sustainable design principles in plans for future developments.
What do new home buyers want?
As a new generation of home buyers comes of age, their ideal homes reflect their values. By 2017, the real estate website realtor.com estimated that 61% of all home buyers were under the age of 35 years. This is a generation that has a strong commitment to the environment and sustainability, and would like to incorporate these principles into their homes. Whether they’re buying custom built homes or homes that have been previously lived in, they’re looking for energy efficiency, sustainability, community, and walkability.
One thing that hasn’t changed much over the years is the pull of a good school district, especially for a young family with school age children. Many home buyers will base their choice of home in that factor above all else. In fact, realtors estimate that a good school district can add as much as 20% to the value of a home. A new feature that almost half, or 48%, of custom built home buyers express a preference for is energy efficiency. In urban areas, walkability, mass transit, and community are also listed as desirable features by home buyers.
What is walkability?
For many of its supporters, walkability is the same as good urban design. It essentially means an area zoned for multiple uses so that all facilities such as shopping, recreation, work, and mass transit are all within walking distance. This is very different from suburban areas meant for driving, where you have to get into a car and drive a mile or more to get a pint of milk.
Walkability can refer to the presence of sidewalks, footpaths, and traffic safety features for pedestrians. It is an important concept in sustainable urban design, since it promotes both better health for residents and a lesser impact on the environment. Reduced automobile use means lower emissions of pollutants including CO2, which causes smog and contributes to global climate change.
Building sustainable communities
It can be a challenge to build sustainable communities when land use has been adapted to suburban use based on driving for two or three generations. Urban planners and local authorities are trying to retrofit existing suburban areas with features like walkability, energy efficient housing, and access to mass transit.
These also become the guiding principles for future developments. These features appeal to home buyers as well, and can improve property values for existing and new homes. In terms of home buyers preferences, whether it’s existing properties or new custom homes, the future looks sustainable.
The majority of home buyers are now under the age of 35 years and have a new set of concerns guiding their choices. Whether it’s existing construction or new homes, they’re looking for features like energy efficiency, walkability, community, and sustainability. This in turn forces urban planners, developers, and civic authorities to incorporate the principles of sustainable design in their current and future plans.