Public Transportation Not a Big Factor Behind Housing Choices
Without a major shift in public attitudes toward using public transportation and driving less, there are limits to how far new public transportation systems and transit-oriented development can go in reducing traffic flow on local streets and highways, according to new research by economists at NAHB.
Relatively few home buyers and renters choose a neighborhood because of its proximity to public transportation, the study found.
Based on data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, the NAHB study on “Household Type, Housing Choice and Commuting Behavior” found that relatively few married couples with children consider public transportation when selecting a neighborhood, and that they are likely to own more cars and travel more miles to work than other types of households.
Married couples, the research showed, are more likely to settle in a particular neighborhood because they like its appearance or it’s the location of a home they particularly like. One-person households, on the other hand, care about finding a location near where they work more than anything else.
Economists at NAHB note that these results have implications for land use planning — suggesting, for example, that different types of housing are needed to serve different types of households, and that the appropriate mix of housing in a transit-oriented development may differ from the mix needed to serve the local labor market as a whole.
The Size of City Blocks
Focusing on another aspect of the built environment, the study investigated the relationship between commuting patterns and the size of city blocks.
In the absence of other types of consistently complied data, block size is routinely used by academic researchers to measure street accessibility and interconnectivity.
Tracts with the smallest blocks — and therefore, at least theoretically, the best connected and most accessible streets — have the highest percentage of people walking and bicycling to work, according to the research. However, under the best of circumstances, cyclists and walkers never exceed 10% of the commuting population.
Smaller blocks also lead to shorter commuting times, the data suggested; at least until the average block size falls to 50,000 square feet. When blocks are smaller than that, the trend is reversed and commuting time starts to increase.
The study concluded that commuting times are longest in tracts with an average block size of under 20,000 square feet, indicating that there are limits on how small it would be desirable to make blocks in new residential developments.
For more information, e-mail Paul Emrath at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8449.
Web Site Is One-Stop Shop for Tax Credit Info
Builders and other industry professionals can help spur home sales by referring prospective home buyers to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. The NAHB Web site provides detailed information on both the extended $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the new $6,500 repeat buyer tax credit recently signed into law by President Obama.
Consumers can use the Web site to find information on both tax credits — including frequently asked questions and links to social media sites that provide updated information as it becomes available. It also includes a number of home-buying resources for consumers.
Industry professionals are encouraged to highlight the tax credit Web site when marketing to their potential home buyer market.
Webcast of Fall Construction Forecast Conference Now Available
An on-demand webcast of the 2009 Fall Construction Forecast Conference held at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 21 is now available for purchase.
The webcast fee includes access to the webcast archive and electronic copies of the conference handout and presentation materials. Multiple viewers in one office can purchase the webcast for one fee.
The on-demand webcast also gives viewers complete flexibility in their viewing experience — pause, skip forward and backward, or jump directly to your topics of interest. The webcast is available for $250.
To view the webcast schedule, topics of discussion and a list of the presenters, click here.
To purchase and download the webcast, click here.
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