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Old 02-06-2013, 12:00 PM
 
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Here in Northern VA, more and more of the new development is either townhouses, condos or apartments and less is the traditional single family homes on quarter acre lots. If they do build single family homes they are on 5000 square foot lots with little room for trees, grass or gardens. I suspect that many planners think that dense development is better and would like to phase out single family homes on 1/4 to 1/2 acre lots entirely in both large cities and suburbs.

When the concept of Townhouses first came out in the Northern VA area 30 years ago, they were for middle income or poor people and people who lived in single family detached homes strongly pushed for a large physical buffer between the tacky townhouses and their nicer single family detached homes with yards, trees and gardens. They thought the town home communities were tacky and would hurt their property values if allowed too close to the single family detached homes. Now the line is blurred with some townhouses being built right next to single family detached homes. They are also putting apartments right next to townhouses and single family homes, unlike the old days.

In your community would you like to see more condos, townhouses, and apartments being built as a percentage of the total, or do you still believe the best type of development is single family detached homes with yards? What is a good mixture of these housing styles for your community? (Percentages)

Last edited by Old Tired Man; 02-06-2013 at 12:33 PM..
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:15 PM
 
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I believe that a tastefully-done apt/condo complex can co-exist in a largely single-family neighborhood, as long as the aesthetics are kept in place. I think that there are plenty of people who would enjoy living in a suburban environment, but might have trouble affording the price-tag of a well-heeled single family home district.

Some of the SFH owners might object, wanting to keep its residential structure intact. But it could be done, providing that the neighborhood remain predominantly SFH, with just a smattering of other living arrangements..
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:20 PM
 
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Not all suburbs are the same. Nor should they all aspire to the same development. I'm sure all towns would like to be exclusively $1M+ properties. That's just not how things work. My area is mostly 1950s ranch houses and that works pretty well for us. We're a small enough city that this doesn't require sprawling for 100 miles or create traffic nightmares. I wish the lots were smaller, as I don't care much for yardwork, but I am a firm believer that nothing is right for everywhere. I think it'd be cool to see somebody somewhere build some old fashioned brownstone rowhouses on through streets, but I won't hold my breath waiting.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Old Tired Man View Post
In your community would you like to see more condos, townhouses, and apartments being built as a percentage of the total, or do you still believe the best type of development is single family detached homes with yards? What is a good mixture of these housing styles for your community? (Percentages)
The market is making this determination. When gas was cheap, land was more plentiful, and commuting was less of a concern (though, it could have already been problematic) "the market" preferred detached SFHs. Now, the context has changed and "the market" (suppliers and consumers) has changed with it.

Personally, I think too many detached SFHs exist as a % of total residences, and individuals aren't given adequate choice, so I see condos and apartment construction as a good thing.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:25 PM
 
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Town homes offer the opportunity to get into a place for a much lower price point than a SF detached. That doesn't mean that the Town home has to be cheap. As a matter of fact, there are some very high-end town homes. A 500K dollar town home can offer a finish out that would cost may 900K on a SF detached for roughly the same square footage of finished space. There are a ton of efficiencies when building a town home that allow for this.

It's also a great option for people who don't care for a lot of yard to maintain. If you just need a small patio area for some al-fresco dining and don't have a need or want of a big yard - town homes are fantastic options.

Also - the idea that all town homes are tacky, or cheap or noisy is just not true. A well built town home will feel like a SF detached on the inside. If the shared walls are built appropriately you'll never hear your neighbor (of if you did, you'd have the same problem in a SF detached).

In short - Town homes are increasingly being used by young and single people to get into higher end housing for a mid-range price.

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Old 02-06-2013, 12:38 PM
 
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I don't think that the market is really determining the mix of detached vs homes that share a wall. I think developers and the planning community is pushing for more dense development because they think it is for our own good and they make more money from it than single family homes. Most people if had a choice would prefer there would be more choices in recently built single family detached homes.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Old Tired Man View Post
I don't think that the market is really determining the mix of detached vs homes that share a wall. I think developers and the planning community is pushing for more dense development because they think it is for our own good and they make more money from it than single family homes. Most people if had a choice would prefer there would be more choices in recently built single family detached homes.
?

Do you think that they can force people to buy something they don't want? Do developers not operate in a competative environment where if they don't produce what people want they can go elsewhere?

Why are you making the assumption that this is not a response to market demand? Why wouldn't someone just choose a different development if they can't find what they are looking for?
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tired Man View Post
I don't think that the market is really determining the mix of detached vs homes that share a wall. I think developers and the planning community is pushing for more dense development because they think it is for our own good and they make more money from it than single family homes. Most people if had a choice would prefer there would be more choices in recently built single family detached homes.
Is the planning community preventing single family detached homes from being built? If not, townhomes produce more money is a market force. Perhaps more prefer a detached home, but if they are more expensive to construct, than maybe not everyone would like to pay extra for one.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Tired Man View Post
I don't think that the market is really determining the mix of detached vs homes that share a wall. I think developers and the planning community is pushing for more dense development because they think it is for our own good and they make more money from it than single family homes. Most people if had a choice would prefer there would be more choices in recently built single family detached homes.
In the Bay area, land is scarce. Building townhomes, condos, and apartments is, therefore, a direct response to land price (developers want to maximize profit, consumers may not be able to afford a detached SFH) and to the preferences of the high-tech millennial crowd, which differ from those of Baby Boomers and Generation X.

"The market" isn't a representation of wants alone, it's of choices consumers can (not just want to) make from what is actually available (not just what produces want to provide).
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:07 PM
 
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There has been a thousand stories in the news of late promoting the glories of dense development even in places where land is cheaper and goes on forever. These are planted stories to encourage people to accept more of this type of development and make it seem hip.

Lots of time the developers and the local officals control the agenda because they don't build smaller homes on 1/4 acre lots like they used to, so if someone wants a single family home they are forced to buy something older or change their mind and buy a townhouse kicking and screaming. I know lots of my friends in Northern VA living in townhouses and condos would love to live in a newer single family home but in the last 15 years nearly every single family home that is detached is a huge estate style model. So it out of reach. One thing I like about the south is they still build smaller single family detached homes with grass and trees at reasonable prices.

Last edited by Old Tired Man; 02-06-2013 at 01:21 PM..
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