When my husband and I bought our first home, we finally came to the conclusion that as caffeine addicts, we needed to be within walking distance of a coffee shop.
That revelation crystallized what we were looking for, and we then almost instantly found a place that gave us a choice of a major chain with a green logo, a local place and the less ubiquitous smaller chain decorated in coffee-toned hues.
According to a new report by the National Association of Realtors, we are part of a growing movement that cares more about being close to shopping than having vaulted ceilings and a two-car garage.
The NAR study found 56% of those surveyed preferred smart growth communities, and nearly three out of five would choose a smaller home if they could have a commute of 20 minutes or less.
A home's "walk score
" has increasingly become a factor for buyers tired of long commutes and having to hop in the car just to get a gallon of milk.
Making the Top 10 Walkable Cities
list makes city planners smile. They have been trying to get us all out of our cars for years and, in many areas, are pushing smaller, denser developments that are built closer to public transit.
The Community Preference Survey also found that what a community offers is more important than the size of a home. Buyers were concerned with the quality of the neighborhood (88%) and schools (77%).
Suburbs are increasingly looking less sexy as unemployment soars
and gas prices rise. Many have noted the demographic shift under way as the poor have left cities
that have gentrified them out of affordable housing.
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The issue of walkability isn't lost on planned-community developers
either, many of whom tout that feature for seniors and other prospective buyers.
Tips for improving your neighborhood's walkability include working with your neighbors
to talk with local officials. You'll also need a critical mass of people and places worth walking to and mingling in.
Better walkability can benefit your pocketbook as well as your health. A study by the nonprofit group CEOs for Cities
found that home values could go up by $4,000 to $34,000 if they were near shops, schools and restaurants.
Rebecca Roberts began her career as an online editor in 1996 with the launch of MSNBC and has worked as the managing editor of Netscape and senior editor of Yahoo! Real Estate. She's currently both a renter and a landlord.