Beware the national housing survey!

Glenwood Park, Atlanta, GA

Here’s another reason why new communities are often so undesirable: opportunistic surveys by the nation’s home building association, which in turn guides what is built in the future. Their 1999 survey concludes that only 9% of 25-34 year olds want to buy a townhouse in a neighborhood like the one on the left (Glenwood Park, Atlanta GA), whereas 91% prefer a single-family home in suburbia with a longer commute to work.

Hello?

Maybe it’s because they chose to survey a specific audience where 81% of them had very recently purchased/moved into a single-family home in suburbia? Or maybe it’s because most of the townhouse communities built by their members in the last 50 years are, well, cookie cutter, sterile and lifeless.

So, would it be fair to thus assume that the longer one lived in suburbia, the more one would realize it’s not so desirable after all? The facts tell the story: 20% of 45-54 year olds prefer the urban townhouse, while 24% of 55-year olds do, keeping in mind that a vast majority of these survey respondents already live in suburbia.

The bottom line is, the most economically and socially successful, thriving urban downtowns (from Seattle to Manhattan to Dublin), are full of 25-34 years olds, and they’re anything but suburban.