Continued Preference for Housing Options Closer to Transportation and Commercial Opportunities


Slow housing market and emphasis on access to job opportunities changing location preferences

Washington, D.C. – December 7, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Over the last several years there has been increasing demand for housing options within close proximity to public transit, employment centers, retail and entertainment options, and access to open space for recreation. Houses with porches that allow for more neighborhood connection, durable and low-maintenance products for home exteriors, sustainable features and solar reflective roofs also remain popular. The housing and economic downturn, along with the growing number of immigrant households, has led to a rise demand for multi-generational housing.Residential architecture firms continue to report weak business conditions, but with remodeling activity showing a sharp increase over the same period a year ago. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2010 that focused on community and neighborhood design.

“There are a number of factors at play that have encouraged a shift towards smaller infill projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “There has been a resurgence in urban living in general, but economic realities like high foreclosure rates, increased commuting time and costs, and a renewed interest in affordability are key drivers in altering the residential real estate landscape.”

Baker added, “Recently, numerous organizations have issued reports linking the health benefits of living in transit-oriented communities. There is a strong correlation between a design strategy tailored towards access to public transportation and job centers that can reduce sprawl, dependence on automobiles and foreign oil, encourages physical activity and leads to an overall more vibrant and healthy community.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

    Community design elements 2010 2009
    Infill development 65% 69%
    Access to public transportation 58% 55%
    Mixed-use facility 53% 48%
    Dedicated open space 47% 45%
    Multigenerational housing 47% 41%
    Popular Home Exteriors Features
    Durable exterior materials 75% 75%
    Porches 57% 53%
    Sustainable roofing 52% 47%
    Solar reflective roofs 39% n/a
    Tubular skylights 30% 24%
    • (% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3)

      Housing market business conditions

      The residential market continues to struggle. The national billings index was 42 for the third quarter of 2010 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), up slightly from the previous quarter’s mark of 41. Inquiries for new projects were 49, showing minimal improvement compared to the score of 47 in the second quarter of the year.

    Specific construction segments 2010 2009
    Kitchen and bath remodeling 43% 27%
    Additions / alterations 42% 26%
    First-time buyer / affordable home market -35% -2%
    Move-up home market -34% -30%
    Townhouse / condo market -39% -43%
    Custom / luxury home market -43% -48%
    Second / vacation home -65% -70%

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q3)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on kitchen and bath trends (February 2011), overall home layout and use (June 2011), and specialty rooms and systems (September 2011).

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit

Matt Tinder

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