Driverless Cars May Open Options for Buyers

May 30, 2017

More autonomous, self-driving cars are expected on the roads over the next decade, which will likely have a big impact on residential construction, housing demand, and home design, notes Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders.

Driverless cars could make more areas suitable for development of single-family communities, Dietz argues in an article for BUILDER Online. “More efficient roadways would reduce travel times and grow the size of markets in which buyers could ‘ride until they qualify.’ If commuters are free to work, socialize, or otherwise spend their time not driving, the mental cost of commuting would be lower," he writes. “A less-taxing commute would mean that people could live farther away in homes and neighborhoods more to their liking. This effect could spark a renewed round of ‘ex-urban’ development.”

Autonomous cars, which would free people up to work more during a drive, also may lessen the need for a home office—and encouraging other types of interior usage in home design, Dietz notes. The multifamily sector also stands to go through changes while adapting to the growth in driverless vehicles. For example, developers in urban areas often pay a premium to buy land for a parking lot or garage, and those costs are passed on to renters and buyers, he notes. Greater reliance on shared autonomous vehicles as a mode for transportation could help ease high rental rates, as well as supply constraints in high-density multifamily developments.

“It is difficult to forecast the precise effects, but it’s clear that if driverless cars come into heavy use in the years ahead, it will produce many changes for housing and home building,” Dietz writes.

Source: “How Will Autonomous Cars Impact Housing?” BUILDER Online (May 25, 2017)