Single Homebuyers Flock to Suburbs


A new Coldwell Banker (Stock Quote: CD) study turns the conventional notion that young singles prefer the city on its head. Instead, fresh data shows that with low home prices, interest rates and government tax incentives, singles are looking to the suburbs for a new home.

One caveat. You have to be careful with these polls — political types call these “push” polls, where the sponsor pushes the survey to a desired result. In this case, the survey was run by a major national real estate firm which has a vested interest in young consumers buying a home.

In addition, there is plenty of data that suggests city living may be preferable over suburban living. Behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman recently published a report suggesting among a number of regular activities, commuting has the most negative effect on suburbanites’ moods. In addition, economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer have reported that commuters who live an hour away from work must earn 40% more money than they currently do to be as satisfied with their lives as non-commuters.

That said, the discerning eye reveals some interesting results from the Coldwell Banker study. The national online survey of 1,000 single homeowners, which was conducted in April, paints a picture of budget-conscious ex-urbanites who say buying in the ‘burbs is a better value than renting in the city.

The survey says that 53% of respondents bought a home because it was more cost-effective than renting in their preferred area. Another 35% say they value the “independence” of owning their own home.

Here are some other conclusions from the survey:

  • Suburban commutes may be getting shorter. 55% of survey respondents say they have less than a 30-minute commute to their office or work from home. Meanwhile, 40% live less than 30 minutes from (or even in the same neighborhood as) their parents or extended family.
  • All in the family. To afford a new home, 12% of survey respondents live with at least one family member.
  • Single women want the larger homes the ‘burbs often provide. More single women (27%) said that the number of bedrooms was the most desirable feature in a home, than did men (18%).

Overall, Coldwell banker reports that it’s discovering more single homebuyers on its client list. These clients, Coldwell says, want more yard space, bigger homes and more privacy.

If Coldwell’s survey is on the money, it looks like ex-urban singles are getting just that — and may be coming to an off-ramp near you.

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