Real Estate Trends: Buyers Seeking Walkable Communities; Vibrant Downtowns
According to RE/MAX walkable communities with vibrant downtowns—such as the one in Downers Grove—are drawing more homebuyers who have lived in the city.
House hunters searching for properties are more interested in living in walkable communities like Downers Grove, according to real estate experts.
A growing real estate trend is for homebuyers to seek out those communities with vibrant downtown areas with shops, restaurants and public transportation, according to RE/MAX.
"We are seeing many people returning to the suburbs after having lived in Chicago as young adults. In the city, they could walk to the El and restaurants," Carrie Kenna, a RE/MAX agent serving the Western suburbs, including Clarendon Hills said in a news release. "When they come back to the suburbs, they are looking for the same convenience. They want to be able to walk to public transportation and restaurants."
Public transportation is important to homebuyers, according to RE/MAX. Residents want the ease of walking from their homes to the train station and commuting downtown by Metra. Even communities with smaller downtowns can garner more interest in the homes located near them.
Downers Grove has three Metra stations along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) line: Belmont, 5000 Belmont Road; the downtown Main Street Station, 5001 Main St., and Fairview, Fairview and Burlington avenues.
RE/MAX cited a study conducted last year by the Brookings Institute. The study looked specifically at neighborhoods in the Washington D.C. area. It defined walkable neighborhoods as those allowing residents to meet all their daily needs by walking, biking or taking public transportation. The more walkable a community was rated, the higher the price per square foot.
Businesses also benefit from and help reinforce residents desire to live near downtowns, according to Kenna.
“Greater population density in and around downtowns is good for the business community, so new restaurants and other businesses will continue to pop up. And that can make the downtown even more attractive as a place to live,” she said.
In December, an article in Forbes Magazine listed Downers Grove among its "15 Friendliest Towns in America." The list was determined by analyzing each town's percentage of owner-occupied homes, crime rate, charitable giving and and the percentage of college graduates—but having a central downtown was a universal characteristic of the top 15.
"Many of the towns that made our list have certain commonalities beyond the factors we rated them on," the article stated. "Nearly all boast tracts of public open spaces (like parks, beaches and outdoor recreational trails) and a central downtown or main street hub that lends itself to town-sponsored events and parades. All of these places host a bevy of festivals, concert series, and street markets."
Downers Grove was strong in many of these categories, according to Forbes.
"In addition to a boutique and restaurant-filled downtown, this suburb has about 600 acres of parks and green space," the article stated. "On Saturdays during the summer, neighbors partake in a farmers market and auto enthusiasts gather on Friday nights for an informal classic car show."
Since 1997, the Downtown Management Corporation and its executive director, Linda Kunze, have been responsible for keeping downtown Downers Grove vibrant and stocked with restaurants and shops.
“I love it so much and I love the people down here,” Kunze told Patch last year. “I love seeing the excitement on people's faces when they come down here and say 'I can't believe how this town has evolved'. It really does my heart good.”
Was Downers Grove’s downtown a draw for you? What would you like to see in downtown downtown Downers Grove?
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