Location matters: Where Americans are headed and why

by MPA28 Jan 2015
In real estate, location still matters – a lot. In fact, for the majority of Americans, the right neighborhood trumps the right house, according to a new report by The Demand Institute. But perhaps more surprising is that most people (59%) who move won't go far, staying within 30 miles of their current home. 

In the report released today, The Demand Institute, a non-advocacy, non-profit think tank jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen, examines where and why Americans are moving. While some urban markets have boomed in recent years, more movers are pulling away from dense city centers rather than moving closer. The research, which surveyed more than 10,000 households, shows that the suburbs – home to bigger, more affordable houses and safer neighborhoods – will attract the most movers.

"Strong suburban demand is directly tied to the perception of what constitutes a safe neighborhood," explained Louise Keely, president of The Demand Institute and senior vice president at Nielsen. "Most of us want to live where we feel safe, and that is quiet and well maintained. Unfortunately, we also know 'safe neighborhoods' is a top unmet housing need for many Americans – and one in five report that their neighborhoods are becoming less safe despite continued declines in crime nationally."

According to the report, Location Matters: Where America is Moving, other location-related priorities vary widely and can be polarizing. Those with school-age children care about good schools (30%); others want to be close to their workplace (32%). Some want walkable neighborhoods (39%) near entertainment, services and public transit, yet most are fine with being a short drive from grocery stores, restaurants, parks and other amenities.

"Location and everything that comes with it has very important implications for community leaders and policy makers," said Jeremy Burbank, vice president at The Demand Institute and Nielsen. "This is especially true as they continue to position their communities for growth and also improve the quality of life. Issues such as safety and crime, advances in transportation, and diversity in population and location needs, will continue to impact and inform Americans' living and housing choices."

Location Matters: Where America is Moving is part of a broader initiative led by The Demand Institute to understand where future home and community demand is headed. It is one product of an 18-month research program that included in-depth interviews with 10,000 U.S. consumers, analysis of 2,200 cities and towns in America and projections of the national and regional U.S. housing markets.

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