Are suburban buyers looking for urban-style features in their homes?
In my experience, walkability means two things to buyers. One is the ability to walk to shopping, services, schools and parks. A strong buyer preference for this kind of walkability was one of the big changes in local real estate when I entered the biz in the late 1990s. Exurbia–upscale living out in the hills–was on its way out, and the dot-com era may have been its last hurrah. Upscale living in the flats, closer to shopping and services but not too close, was back in style after several decades of waning enthusiasm.
The second aspect of walkability is just that: the ability to walk, easily and without mountain-climbing gear, in your own neighborhood, for your own enjoyment. “Strollability” requires level streets and real sidewalks, features conspicuous by their absence in exurbia. Score another one for the flats.
Proximity to work is relative in Silicon Valley these days. A twenty- to thirty-minute commute is considered a good commute, and between extended commute hours and the lunch-hour crush, even this can take fancy timing to achieve.
Neighborhood diversity? I don’t hear much about this. I’ve had a few clients tell me they don’t want to live in a neighborhood where everyone looks like them. On the other hand, I recently heard concern that old-time residents wouldn’t be accepting of new residents, and it may be that many of my clients have had this concern but haven’t shared it with me.
Convenience to public transportation was a neighborhood feature highly sought-after by most of my clients, until a few years ago, about the time, perhaps not coincidentally, that many of my buyer clients stopped shunning homes with pools and even sought them out.
It goes to show that buyer preferences are cyclical. These days my buyer clients so resemble my parents’ generation that I half-way expect them to show up in a station wagon with fins and fake wood siding.
This is not a bad thing.
copyright © John Fyten 2017