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Why people choose their home

Location-Location-Location. Ok -sure, but let’s get more specific.  Recently, the National Building Museum concluded a survey to better understand how people interact with the built environment – your home, neighborhood, and city.

The initiative was called Intelligent Cities and delves into the subject of home choice.  They added a new spin with the opening questions: 

  1.   “What were your top two reasons for choosing your current house or apartment?”    followed by  
  2. “If you were choosing now, what would your top two reasons be?” 

What they in effect did was ask, during your home shopping experience what made you pick your home. Now that the “bloom is off the rose” and you’ve lived there – what should you have been paying attention to?

That first question speaks of the rational sizzle that home buyers report they fall in love with and what both Builders and Real Estate professionals promote. The second is more along the lines of great real advice for home shoppers to consider. 

 (click to enlarge the graph above)

the top reasons for choosing a home

 #1 Can walk or bike to stuff I like to do.  (The acquisitions team always knew they were important – now they have more proof.)  This finding is not surprising, but the strength of the point may be. 

It is also the BIGGEST lesson learned by residents – their future homes will have even more stuff they walk or bike to. Walking and Biking is valued. Cities are vying to be recognized on these attributes.’s value proposition is based on this.  Personally, I chose my home for exactly this reason.   #6 Access to green space is also along this line of thought.

For home builders, finding and building on land that fits this criteria isn’t easy.  In-fill / re-use is what many in the industry see as the future. As far as Community Developers, the “token effort” for walkable and bikeable would most likely be a miss. The prospect of  walking/biking to big-box retail…ummm…not that enjoyable or practical.

#2 Money (sale price, rent or tax benefit).  This is reality although in looking back people feel they placed a bit too much importance on it. That said, in today’s tight credit market this may change substantially.

[NOTE: A CEO of a public homebuilder shared last week that 30% of his prospective homebuyers in Orange County, California – could not get financing.  Also, at the time of this writing, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the GSEs that have subsidized mortgages for years, are being considered for elimination. Let’s add the tax benefit to that list as well.  These possibilities do not bode well for U.S. homeownership or the building industry.]

On the actual house – both #4 Size of my home and #5 Looks -love at first sight  are not as important as originally valued , but #9 Saves on my energy bills increased by over 350%.  

The view on energy efficiency is evolving for customers and builders.  Certainly, new homes have an advantage over older homes in this arena. Still, balancing cost to benefit is a fine business-line to walk and the whole subject of “green” in the industry is a subject unto itself.    

Key Thought: What is around the home in the local neighborhood is the most important factor in choosing a home. People want a place to go- without using their car. Also, in hindsight – this is even more important to people than they first imagined, as is energy efficiency.

Worth a Visit: Intelligent Cities

Disclaimer: This post is about the reasons people report they buy, not “why they buy”.

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