Five Growing Trends in Residential Land Development

Five Growing Trends in Residential Land Development

In our recent blogs, we reviewed changes in the housing markets, both nationally and locally. We now want to turn to the trends that are shaping the neighborhood designs of 2019. We see at least five notable changes in the modern streetscape...

Changes in Modern Community Development

  • Clustering, to Provide more Open Space: In the past, a community of 50 acres would contain approximately 50 homes, and each home would have more or less an acre (1.0 acres) of land. With clustering, each homesite would only have one quarter of an acre (0.25 acres), with the remaining 30+ acres held as private open space for the entire community to enjoy. This transfer provides benefits to the residents in terms of reduced lawn maintenance, and it also promotes preservation of stream buffers and other important natural areas near the homes.

  • More Density, to Reduce Costs and Maintenance: Given the dwindling amount of flat, usable land in the Triangle - combined with its economic scarcity - it makes sense to put as many homes as possible on what’s left. We see this play out in the form of more apartment and townhome projects. These two housing types are not for everyone, but they do allow many individuals and small families a more affordable housing price. And, residents in these more urban housing types also need to spend less time on maintenance activities such as mowing and landscaping.

  • Affordable Housing as Part of the Housing Mix: Several Triangle towns are requesting (or even requiring) affordable housing to be mixed within market rate neighborhoods. For example, a neighborhood that is predominantly priced in the $600-700,000’s might have several smaller, more affordable units mixed in. The affordable homes would only be available to qualifying families making less than 80% of the median income. These homes might cost as little as $200,000 for qualifying families, with the subsidy being shared between the homebuilder, the land developer, and the previous land owner.

  • Innovative Stormwater Management: The cost of stormwater management has increased dramatically for newer development projects. First, the cost of all land has increased, and the land for stormwater ponds is no less expensive than land for new homes. Also, as density increases, there is simply more stormwater runoff to treat and release. The combination of these two factors has led to more innovative approaches such as underwater detention. So, instead of having an unsightly pond above the ground, water-tight chambers are buried beneath the ground to capture and release the water. This decreases the amount of land needed to build a neighborhood, and also deters mosquitoes and other insects.

  • More Sidewalks and Trails that Increase “Walkability”: Last but not least, walkability has become the number one amenity for new neighborhoods, replacing swimming pools and golf courses in terms of overall desirability. Having sidewalks on both sides of the road, greenway connections to open space, and closer proximity to shopping centers strongly increase demand for housing.

More Changes in Residential Land Development

We look forward to hearing other trends you’ve personally noticed in real estate development. Send us a comment @ with your own observations!

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