Back To The Future -- How The Gas Prizes Will Change Our Towns And Could Make Our Lives Better

By
Real Estate Agent with Compass

The lives of realtors in metropolitan areas are at a turning point.  And I'm NOT talking about a slowing market here.  What I'm talking about are our clients' criteria, needs and desires.  More and more buyers are weary of the suburbs now, at least the ones that aren't really "close-in."  Read on and you'll see what I mean.

A hundred years ago, a "suburb" was a green place to live that could be reached in 15 minutes on a streetcar.  Today, make that 1 hour and 15 minutes, and forget about the streetcars -- you're more likely to spend that time in a traffic jam or on a six lane highway.

If that frustation wasn't enough to reverse a trend, the $4+ a gallon might.  Anecdotally, we've already seen that many of our buyers rather go for the smaller, older and less handsome home if it puts them closer to where they want to be: work, shopping, and their social life.

The Washington Post picked this up in a remarkable cover story today (click on the headline):

Gas Prices Apply Brakes To Suburban Migration

 

Washington, DC, of course has consistently starred as one of the worst rush hour failures in multi-city studies across the US.  But it's also full of smart policy makers.  The heated commentaries and debate in the online version of the article attest to the fact that it was right on the money.

As realtors, we will be effected by new trends in housing choices more than anybody else.  I'd love to hear what my colleagues from other parts of the country think.  

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© 2012, Catarina Bannier 

www.BannierHomes.com

www.DCHouseCat.com

www.DCHouseSmarts.com

     

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Rainmaker
1,151,410
Chuck Carstensen
RE/MAX Results - Elk River, MN
Minnesota Real Estate Expert

I am seeing people move closer in and settle for a lesser house too.  Its so spread out in MN if you can believe it.  Suburbs go forever.

Aug 05, 2008 05:51 AM #1
Rainmaker
179,811
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Hi Chuck, interesting to hear we're not the only ones!  Not sure what we're going to do with all those suburbs if this turns out to be a lasting trend, though...

Aug 05, 2008 06:03 AM #2
Rainmaker
429,349
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

It is the same in Texas. Most of my clients want to be close in and that means a smaller house, with a smaller yard and 15-30 minutes to downtown. The suburbs are 3-60 minutes to downtown with big sprawling homes with every amenity on a teeny tiny lot. There are still some who will buy this, but I won't be one of them.

Betina

Aug 05, 2008 06:25 AM #3
Rainmaker
238,959
Pat Fenn
Marketing Specialist for CJ Realty Group/Cindy Jones Broker - Springfield, VA

We are going to see more live, work, play communities in our area in the future.  The whole idea that someone has to be sitting in an office in DC to get their job done is ridiculas. 

Aug 05, 2008 06:31 AM #4
Rainmaker
179,811
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Bettina -- that's amazing (up here we always think of Texans as people who like everything big cars, hair, houses...must be the media, LOL).  No, but seriously, i'm almost pleased to hear that people have noticed that a large home doesn't necessarily make for a better life.

Pat -- yes, and from VA it's even worse than from the MD suburbs.  It always amazes me what many people have put up with for so long with those bridges.  I don't go to VA too often but recently had to go a bunch of times within a couple of weeks, and it seemed that the traffic to get across the river was a little easier than it used to be.  I was seriously wondering if that had to do with gasoline and new choices that people were making.

Aug 05, 2008 06:57 AM #5
Rainer
139,927
Kelly Sibilsky
Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD. - Lake Zurich, IL

I think it will become more of a trend in the future, because not only is it annoying to spend so much time on the road, it is also bad for the environment and wastes our precious resources. In Chicagoland, they've said on the news that traffic has gotten better since the gas prices went up, so it is definitely having an effect on people who are choosing to ride the Metra or carpool.

Aug 05, 2008 12:10 PM #6
Rainer
208,371
James Wexler
wexzilla.com - Scottsdale, AZ

we drive every where here in Greater phoenix, scottsdale, -- amazing how the slowest areas in terms of real estate sales are the furthest from metro phoenix

Aug 05, 2008 06:17 PM #7
Rainmaker
179,811
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Kelly, I really hope you're right, and I also hope that the trend will be realized by the government and local representatives so that more can be spent on smart public transport solutions.  It's kind of ironic for me to say that, since you pretty much have no choice as a realtor (unless you specialize in only one and the same condo complex). 

Funny, I have also been thinking that the traffic has eased up a little here, but thought maybe it's the summer.  We'll see.

James, thanks for stopping by.  This just proves that--even though you drive everywhere--Arizona is no different.  People are just sick of the long commutes.  But again, I wonder what's going to happen to those remote areas...

Aug 07, 2008 02:26 AM #8
Ambassador
3,680,784
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Cati, I have been working with people moving here from other areas, and nobody wants to be far out.  And forget Metro.  They want to be near the bicycle routes that lead downtown.  And they are my age!!!!!  And an inspiration!

Aug 07, 2008 01:59 PM #9
Rainmaker
179,811
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Pat, did you see the cover of the Style section last Sunday, all about how Washingtonians discover the bike as a--how revolutionary--means of transportation, rather than just as exercise equipment?  The picture showed this woman on heels and in a skirt (and NO helmet!) on her comfortable old-fashioned bike.  That's how she gets to her office, and apparantly the sales of old lady-type bicycles are going up!  I have one, big padded leather seat and all,  and when I bought it at The Bicycle Place a few years ago, they gave me the weirdest look.  I had to order it from a catalog they pulled out from under the counter.  I just wanted to have fun and get around--who would have thought I started a trend ;-)

Aug 07, 2008 02:50 PM #10
Rainmaker
179,811
Catarina Bannier
Compass - Chevy Chase, DC
DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way

Here it is (the bicycle article):  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/01/AR2008080103246.html . As someone who grew up biking through a certain European capital (and with a mother who held the firm opinion that it is always preferable to walk 4 flights of stairs rather than waiting for some elevator), this really excited me...

Aug 07, 2008 03:03 PM #11
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Mar 08, 2012 03:20 AM #12
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Rainmaker
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Catarina Bannier

DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way
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