coUrbanize Survey Reveals Real Estate Development Is More Welcomed in Neighborhoods than Many Might Believe
Nearly Half of Respondents Identify as “Pro-development” and Most Report at Least One Benefit Real Estate Development Brings to Their Community
Boston, Mass., June 9, 2020 – coUrbanize, the online community engagement platform purpose-built for real estate teams and city planners, today released its report, “The Upside of Real Estate Development.” The report summarizes the company’s consumer survey of more than one-thousand respondents across the United States. Fielded in early March of 2020, just before nationwide lockdowns took effect, the survey uncovered a largely welcoming attitude toward real estate development.
“Real estate teams often go into a new project believing that NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard) represent how most people feel about development, so we wanted to test that assumption,” said Karin Brandt, CEO and Founder of coUrbanize. “This study found that NIMBYs truly are the minority, and real estate teams have a tremendous opportunity to activate community support.”
According to the study, 82 percent of respondents see benefits of development within their communities, while only about 18 percent felt development did not positively impact their community. Nearly half (49.39 percent) of respondents described themselves as pro-development, regardless of whether they lived in an urban, suburban, or rural setting. Men (56 percent) were more likely than women (45 percent) to describe themselves this way.
Meanwhile, about 28 percent of respondents were unsure of their feelings on development, presenting real estate companies with a tremendous opportunity to educate undecided community members and build a broader base of support for any given project.
Following are additional key findings:
- When asked how development positively impacts their community the four most commonly selected benefits included:
- Economic growth – 58 percent
- New retail and/or public amenities – 43 percent
- New housing stock – 40 percent
- Job creation – 37 percent
- When asked for the most valued aspects of new development, respondents identified:
- Green space – 59 percent
- Streetscape improvements – 57 percent
- Affordable housing – 55 percent
- New retail and restaurants – 55 percent
- New housing options – 42 percent
- Proximity to public transportation – 39 percent
- According to respondents, negative effects most associated with real estate development included:
- Traffic/parking challenges – 62 percent
- Increased cost of living – 52 percent
- Environmental concerns – 44 percent
- Overcrowding – 43 percent
- Loss of historical character – 37 percent
- Gentrification – 31 percent
- Urbanization – 19 percent
When it comes to learning about real estate projects, 30 percent of respondents indicated that local news is the best source for information. Social media was identified as the best source for information by 24 percent of those who took the survey, with word of mouth identified by 18 percent. Updates from city officials (12 percent), public meetings (10 percent) and city or town websites (8 percent) all lagged near the bottom of the list.
It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted before COVID-19 impacted most communities within the United States. It’s likely that people today are turning to governmental information sources more often given the pandemic’s impact on life as we know it today.
The coUrbanize team offers three actions real estate companies can and should take based on the survey results: 1. Challenge assumptions, as the most vocal community members are not always representative of the community at large. 2. Broaden public outreach; engagement is critical to activate silent supporters and the community at large. 3. Lead with community benefits to build broad-based support for development projects.
The survey was conducted over a two-week period in March of 2020. The goal of the 13-question survey was to understand the respondents’ opinions about real estate development in their respective communities across the United States. In total, 1,073 responses were collected. For the purpose of this survey, real estate development was defined as new constructions within the respondent’s community, including residential, retail, and commercial projects.
coUrbanize gives people a way to share their feedback and have a voice in a development or public planning process without having to go to a meeting – by simply posting a comment online or texting in their ideas – and having a two-way dialogue with the project team. More than 400 development and real estate teams have used coUrbanize to scale public outreach in a more inclusive way, have more productive conversations with the community and ultimately build critical support for their projects. For more information, please visit www.courbanize.com.