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Gas prices impact real estate choices

Survey: Buyers' main concern is commute time to work

Rising gas prices have spurred homebuyers to look for homes that offer shorter commute times to work, according to a survey of Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals.

The company conducted the survey online between April 28 and May 3, 2011, and garnered responses from 1,188 Coldwell Banker real estate professionals.

Three-quarters of respondents said the recent jump in gas prices had influenced where their clients chose to live. The main client concern was commute time to work: 89 percent of respondents said buyers look for homes closer to work and 93 percent said a continued rise in gas prices would prompt more homebuyers to choose to live where commute times are shorter.

Almost half (45 percent) of respondents said buyers are choosing homes closer to shops and services as a result of higher gas prices.

According to 77 percent of respondents, more buyers are interested in having a home office compared to five years ago. Of those respondents, 68 percent said the high cost of gas is one reason behind the trend.

"The decision to buy a home has always been tailored around the personal, multifaceted lifestyle needs of each buyer," said Jim Gillespie, Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s CEO, in a statement.

"Today, rising fuel costs and a person’s decision to commute or perhaps work remotely are additional factors of the decision homebuyers must consider."

Respondents also attributed a rise in interest in urban living at least partially to increasing gas prices. Some 56 percent of respondents said they had noticed more homebuyers interested in living in cities compared to five years ago.

Of those respondents, 81 percent said a desire to reduce gas spending was a factor, and 93 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the desire for shorter commutes was a factor.

Other reasons noted for the increased enthusiasm for city living were "having everything at your fingertips" (91 percent strongly agreed or disagreed), "being able to walk to places" (76 percent), and "being near public transportation" (52 percent).

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