New Era Statistics: Townhouses May Lead

I recently posted about Arthur Nelson's article that has sparked debate on the future of cities and suburbs.  Predicting is fun, but what are the article's underlying statistics?  "What do households want?  Housing preference surveys routinely find that most people prefer single-family detached homes on large lots.  But such surveys conducted since the late 1990s come to reasonable consensus on demand for other options. (See Malizia and Exline (2000) and Myers and Gearin (2001) for reviews.) The Fannie Mae Foundation (1997) found that between 16 and 19% of a national sample of households preferred townhouses, while a survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB, 1999) found 15% preferred townhouses. The NAHB study also showed that up to a quarter of people over age 55 preferred townhouses over other housing types. "Although there have been no comprehensive surveys of housing preference since 1999, one recent stated-preference survey conducted in 2002 appears to corroborate the demand for small lots. Levine and Frank (in press) conducted a survey of 1,455 metropolitan Atlanta households to assess, among other things, their willingness to trade-off larger lots and cul-de-sac streets for more amenities (sidewalks, narrower connected streets, shops and services, parks, sense of community, etc.). Among those living in single-family detached neighborhoods (most on lots of over one quarter acre, which the study defined as large) they found that about 40% would trade large lots for smaller ones in exchange for those amenities."  (Photo credit: NY Daily News.)