In a September 2009 paper The Market for Smart Growth, market researchers at Robert Charles Lesser & Co. reported strong market demand for housing in new urban communities. In a number of U.S. cities, their consumer surveys found at least one-third of the market prefers new urbanism, transit-oriented development, and urban and suburban infill communities:

Proprietary consumer research conducted by Robert Charles Lesser & Co. LLC (RCLCo) in various U.S. real estate markets has consistently found that about a third of respondents, given the option, would seriously consider New Urbanist communities and housing products in selecting a new home. The majority of the RCLCo studies were conducted for builders and developers as input to planning new smart growth developments. … An examination of the survey evidence relative to consumer housing preferences in the context of demographic projections demonstrates that the size of the market for dense walkable communities is increasing. (emphasis added)

The surveys were conducted between 2000-2006 in Atlanta, GA; Phoenix, AZ; Denver, CO; Provo, UT; Albuquerque, NM; Boise, ID; Chattanooga, TN; Orlando, FL; Charlotte, NC; and Savannah, GA.

The report, by Gregg Logan, Stephanie Siejka and Shyam Kannan, also contains an interesting paragraph on the demographic reasons for the increasing popularity of smart growth. The report is available from the EPA web site Smart Growth: The Business Opportunity for Developers and Production Builders, where several other interesting reports will soon be posted.

Additional resources

Ducker, Adam, Analyzing the Data: Smart Growth Performance in a Challenging Market (mp3 audio). Smart Growth Speaker Series, National Building Museum, April 5, 2010. See also the accompanying visual slides.

Laurence Aurbach, The Market for Mixed Use & Walkability, Ped Shed Blog, December 2006.

Smart Growth America and National Association of Realtors, 2007 Growth and Transportation Survey, October 2007.

Once the Recession Abates, Cities Set to ‘Turn the Page’ on Development Styles. Real Estate Law & Industry, Vol. 2, No. 26, December 29, 2009. Quote:

[Experts] generally agreed that after years of anticipating the advent of “new urbanism” and “smart growth,” the market is primed to generate many more transit-oriented communities, more compact housing developments in “walkable” settings, and more efficient use of available land.