Developer and Realtor Perspectives on Factors That Influence Development, Sale, and Perceived Demand for Activity-Friendly Communities

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Cheryl Carnoske
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Christine Hoehner
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Nicholas Ruthmann
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Lawrence Frank
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Susan Handy
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James Hill
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Sherry Ryan
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James Sallis
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Karen Glanz
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Ross Brownson
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Background:

Although public support for physical activity-friendly Traditional Neighborhood Developments (TNDs) appears to be growing, information is lacking on private sector perspectives and how economic factors (eg, fuel prices) might influence the development and sale of TNDs.

Methods:

A sample of realtors from the National Association of Realtors (n = 4950) and developers from the National Association of Home Builders (n = 162) were surveyed in early 2009 to assess factors influencing homebuyers' decisions; incentives and barriers to developing TNDs; effects of depressed housing market conditions and financing on sales; trends in buying; and energy considerations (eg, green building).

Results:

Realtors believed that homebuyers continue to rank affordability, safety and school quality higher than TND amenities. Developers reported numerous barriers to TNDs, including the inability to overcome governmental/political hurdles, lack of cooperation between government agencies, and lack of market demand. Yet, realtors believed clients are increasingly influenced by gas and oil prices, and developers reported that clients are looking for energy efficient homes, reduced commute time, and walkable neighborhoods. Respondents reported consumers are more interested in living in a TND than 5 years ago.

Conclusions:

Activity-friendly TNDs appear to be increasing in demand, but developers and realtors reported significant barriers to creating these communities.

Carnoske and Ruthmann are with the Prevention Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, St. Louis, MO. Hoehner is with the Dept of Surgery and Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Frank is with the School of Community & Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. Handy is with the Dept of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA. Hill is with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, University of Colorado–Denver, Denver, CO. Ryan is with the Dept of Public Administration and Urban Studies, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Sallis is with the Dept of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Glanz is with the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Brownson is with the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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