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  Neighborhood Design Preferences Shifting to Infill Housing Locations and Access to Public Transit
Furthered weakening in residential sector as renovation market stalls

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Due to the prolonged decline in housing construction and increasing commuting costs, consumer preferences for community design is shifting away from areas removed from metropolitan hubs and towards infill sites that have greater access to public transportation options. Traditional neighborhood design with homes close to the street, sidewalks and smaller lots is being replaced by developments focused around denser areas. With the struggles in the overall economy ongoing, households are also placing a higher emphasis on simpler exterior furnishings, with durability a chief consideration.

Billings at residential architecture firms continue to tumble, with the home improvement market flattening out as well. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2008 that focused on community and neighborhood design.

“As home values have dropped in most markets, buyers are considering which options will have the most resale value,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Infill locations, with their convenient access to employers, retail, entertainment and public transit options, are proving to be appealing from both a livability and investment perspective.”

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Mixed-use developments are still gaining in popularity, but at a slower rate than recent years because these additional uses may already be present in infill locations. The same holds true for dedicated open space and recreational facilities as part of existing developments for the same reason.

The result of a design strategy predicated around pedestrian friendly neighborhoods by clustering residential units around existing retail, entertainment and transit options promotes a healthier and more vital community. A recent report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has shown that green neighborhood design can help mitigate growing childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, and hypertension rates.

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights


Popular Home Exteriors Features
• Durable exterior materials
• Sustainable roofing
• Porches
• Windows (number and size)
• Upscale entry doors
• Accent lighting



Housing market business conditions

There is no relief in the floundering residential market. The national billings index was 29.7 for the third quarter of 2008 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), down considerably from the previous quarter’s mark of 38. Inquiries for new projects also dropped substantially to 28.0.

Specific construction segments

• Additions / alterations
• Kitchen and bath remodeling
• Custom / luxury home market
• Townhouse / condo market
• Move-up home market
• First-time buyer / affordable home market
• Second home





(% 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 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 2008), overall home layout and use (May 2008), and specialty rooms and systems (September 2008).

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 www.aia.org/walkthewalk.

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