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2018 Real Estate Trends to Watch: ‘Surban’—That Sweet Spot Between City and Suburb


From 1950-1980, the real estate profession witnessed the trend of suburbia ... In 1964, an internationally known planned community known as Reston, Va., was founded. When Reston founder Robert E. Simon, Jr., bought the Northern Virginia farmland 20 ...


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No—”surban” is not a typoThink of it as the melding of two words to form a new one in the same manner as celebrity name fusion—think Brangelina, Bennifer or KimyeSurban refers to a suburban area that has the feel of an urban area, with walkability to great retail and restaurants from a house or apartment, and it’s what all the real estate trend predictors are talking about. What Is Surban? Surban is defined as a suburban area that has the feel of urban; it is a blend of the best of urban and suburban lifeUrban planners would previously have described these as “mixed-use” areas, but surban is a relatively new term that fits a bit better. Characteristics of surban areas include: Content Square 1. Located in suburban, not urban areas Anchored in areas with highly-rated schools and low crime rates Dominated by a number of housing options, from single-family residences to condos to townhomes Surrounded by great retail and shopping areas in walkable distance Highlighted with social venues such as restaurants, bars and entertainment There is much being written about the current trend of surban livingThe Urban Land Institute estimates that these areas will draw at least 80 percent of the coming wave of households and will attract the most families in the next 10 yearsNoted real estate consultants John Burns and Chris Porter recently authored a book, “Big Shifts Ahead,” and devoted an entire chapter to the surban way of life. The Suburban and Urban Past From 1950-1980, the real estate profession witnessed the trend of suburbiaHomeowners were moving out of the inner city and relocating in suburban areasThey were willing to sacrifice some incredible commute times to cities and suffer other inconveniences to experience an upscale lifestyleThis was because crime rates in urban areas were high and school performances were low. The 1990s and 2000s brought with it an age of urbanization centered around the renewal of inner cities, development of mixed-use properties in urban areas, increased attention to mass transit, and a renewed focus on downtown condosHowever, the economic downturn of the last decade left little job growth in the urban areasIn addition, crime rates are still relatively high, and school rankings and commitments to education remain low Content Square 2. Paving the Way for Surban Areas In order to truly understand what is meant by a surban area, let’s examine some specific examplesThink grown-up college campusA walkable place to dine, work, live and playStrip mall retailLess emphasis on giant suburban mallsLet’s start with one of the original town centers. In 1964, an internationally known planned community known as Reston, Va., was foundedWhen Reston founder Robert ESimon, Jr., bought the Northern Virginia farmland 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C., he had the vision of developing a community that would embrace walkability, density, access to green space and a diversity of races and income levels. In 1990, Reston Town Center openedThis iconic town center is described by CityLab as “a dense cluster of offices, restaurants and shops, centered on a wide-open plaza with a fountain…a community gathering spot.” Nearly 24 years later, the Silver Line Metro station opened in Reston, which ultimately perfected the interconnectedness of the community and city center by decreasing the need for cars Content Square 3. When Reston Town Center was nearing completion in 1990, Kenneth PWong, senior development manager for the project, told the Washington Post: “The idea of a downtown in the suburbs was something that no one really had a grip on; it’s a very complicated proposition that needed a long [research and development] gestation period.” The Surban Future Today, suburban downtown areas are popping up throughout the countryThough Reston wasn’t the only place developing the blueprint for “surban” developments, it is often referred to as one of the most successful influencers. Here are some of the other notable surban developments: Downtown Naperville, Ill., in the suburbs of Chicago Old Town Pasadena, Calif., in the suburbs of Los Angeles A-Town in Anaheim, Calif., in a neighborhood around the Angels Major League Baseball park Legacy Town Center in Plano, Texas, in the suburbs of Dallas Santana Row in San Jose, Calif., on a former rundown mall site City Centre in Houston, Texas, on a former rundown mall site Downtown Tempe, Ariz., in the suburbs of Phoenix Larkspur, Calif., north of San Francisco, with new housing sandwiched between a top-notch high school and a rejuvenated old downtown Geneva, Ill., in the suburbs of Chicago These types of livable areas are projected to have a profound impact on many areas of real estate in the next several years. Experts predict that surban developments will replace shopping centersMore retail stores will become places that sell experiences rather than goods, and more development will combine housing and retail to satisfy consumer demand for sites that offer convenient car-free shoppingSuburban office demand will also returnAs Gen X and millennials move into more senior management roles and start families, many will move from urban cores to the suburbs to live in areas with good schools, but which are also near employment hubs and entertainment and recreational amenitiesThey will be willing to share space and work remotely. What the Surban Trend Means for Housing The focus is on rental properties, as rates are expected to surge over the long termThe de-emphasis on ownership will be reflected in soaring demand for rental units. Well over half of the 12.5 million net new households created over the next decade will rent, including those who have never owned, and those making the switch from owning to renting as they ageSome experts believe homeownership will decline, with the national rate anticipated to be 60.8 percent by 2025—the lowest point since the 1950s. As more people join the already large number of retirees, competition for workers will push up wages, contributing to a favorable environment for rent increases. There may also be broader choices in housing optionsFor the most part, housing areas have historically been categorized based on single-family residences, townhomes, condominiums or multi-family buildingsThe development and advancement of surban living have already begun blending housing options in a selected areaIt will not be uncommon to find townhomes and condos mixed in with single-family residencesOwnership and rentals will exist in closer proximity to widen the retail base of the homes and provide an array of options for millennials. How Real Estate Agents Can Take Advantage of the Surban Trend What can you do as a real estate agent to position yourself so that you can take advantage of this trend? Identify the current and potential surban areas in your market; become familiar with them. Educate yourself on the potential for surban livingIt’s important to understand that the real power behind this trend is the attention of buyers to amenities and lifestyle, rather than the traditionally marketed features of a home in real estateDevelop and implement a better system of marketing lifestyle and amenities. Use social media to promote and recognize the surban communities in your area. Think about what else you can do to become a real estate leader as this unique movement continues to grow. For more information, please visit www.mckissock.com or www.superiorschoolnc.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com. Facebook Comments Are You Tracking Your Profit? Know how much you really earned for each real estate transactionDid you know QuickBooks Self-Employed helps you easily record commissions and expenses for each listing—plus, you can also deduct the cost of them? Deduct smarter with QuickBooks Self Employed Prime Square Trending When Data Makes the Difference6 Ways to Ensure Your Website Connects With Today’s BuyersA Compelling Formula for Success: Assist2Sell3 Reasons Your Clients Should List During the HolidaysBrand Built on Leads and Technology2018 Forecast: Is Inventory Relief on the Way?Pending Home Sales Pick Up Steam If this tag is to be placed on an SSL page, change the * 'http://openx.rismedia.com/www/delivery/...' * to * 'https://openx.rismedia.com/www/delivery/...' * * This noscript section of this tag only shows image bannersThere * is no width or height in these banners, so if you want these tags to * allocate space for the ad before it shows, you will need to add this * information to the tag. * * If you do not want to deal with the intricities of the noscript * section, delete the tag (from ..to )On * average, the noscript tag is called from less than 1% of internet * users. */--> "); // ]]><a href='http://openx.rismedia.com/www/delivery/ck.php?n=abcfd64a&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE' target='_blank'><img src='http://openx.rismedia.com/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=115&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=abcfd64a' border='0' alt=' /></a> --> Bottom Leader Board goes here. 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