Market Research Shows Sprawl is No Longer in High Demand

Photo Courtesy of Christian Heeb

Photo Courtesy of Christian Heeb

A leading demographer and professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona, Arthur C. Nelson, Ph.D., FAICP, presented“Central Oregon Trends and Opportunities to 2040” to the City Council and City Club this July. His visit to Bend alerted our community to some of the major shifts in housing demographics and market changes that are happening here now.

Over the past thirty years, the Baby Boomer generation created a huge demand for single-family homes on large lots. According to Nelson, from 1989 through 2009, 85% of all homes built across the country were single-family homes. This pretty much met the demand, which was made up of that large population of people in the “peak housing demand” group – or those that are generally 35 to 64 years old.

In years to come, however, that trend is set to reverse. From 2010 through 2040, the level of demand for peak housing will be half as much as before as Baby Boomers downsize and Millennials are unable to afford or unwilling to buy large homes in the suburbs. Demand for new single-family homes in Deschutes County will not go away immediately or completely, but it will be only one third of the change in the market in the next thirty years.

In addition to shifting demographics, Nelson has found that Americans’ attitudes around what they want out of their housing are changing too. While many may still prefer a larger home out in the suburbs with a longer commute to work and city services,more and more Americans want to live where they can walk and bike to work and errands.

There are many benefits to mixed-use neighborhoods where you can walk or bike to work just as easily as you can drive. This slide from Nelson’s presentation lists a few!

Nelson’s research shows that demand for the old model of sprawl development will decline sharply in coming years. In addition to meeting future market demand, limiting suburban sprawl will protect wildlife habitat, enhance access to outdoor recreation, allow for more affordable housing, and prevent increased traffic congestion in our neighborhoods.

This fall, the City of Bend will ask for your opinion about how Bend should grow. Your input will be essential in shaping our city based on our community’s needs and values. To learn about some of the tools the city can use to reduce sprawl, click here.

Watch Arthur C. Nelson’s presentation to the Bend City Council by clicking here (please be patient while the video loads – it should start at the beginning of his talk).