BUENA VISTA — Homes within walking distance to shops and restaurants are forecast to drive the housing markets and economies in mountain communities of the interior West as the recession’s effects wane.
That’s according to a recent study of high-country housing trends over the past decade by the Sonoran Institute, a nonprofit public-policy group that advocates for better management of growth in the West. The group’s 60-page study — “Reset, Assessing Future Housing Markets in the Rocky Mountain West” — shows that while homebuyers are willing to pay an average of 18.5 percent more for a house in a walkable mountain neighborhood in the Rocky Mountain West, the supply of homes in or near downtown commercial areas is too small.
“There is growing demand for walkable neighborhoods, and it’s an untapped market opportunity,” said Clark Anderson, director of the Sonoran Institute’s Western Colorado Program.
Looking at homebuying trends in six Western mountain communities from 2000 to 2010, including Eagle, Buena Vista and Carbondale, the group identified a number of trends driving demand for what it called “compact walkable neighborhoods.”
Younger residents are entering the homebuying market and able to work remotely from hamlets formerly occupied by agricultural or service-sector workers. Older people are retiring in the hills and often downsizing. Household incomes are getting smaller and so are household sizes. Limited land supply in recreational mountain valleys is fueling buyer and municipal interest in denser housing projects.
“These are trends that are happening in small communities, large communities, resorts, towns and cities across the Rocky Mountains. Consumer preferences and choices are creating a different-looking housing market from what we have known in the past,” Anderson said.
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These are trends that are happening in small communities, large communities, resorts, towns and cities across the Rocky Mountains.