Emily Washington and Eli Dourado, the researchers behind the project, used revealed preference theory to uncover the extent to which walkability can inform a homebuyer’s choices. Walkable homes come with a higher price tag, Washington writes, because they are in relatively scarce supply. It follows that developers avoid building walkable housing not for financial reasons, but because of certain external regulations.
Washington says that research indicating Americans prefer single-family homes because there are more of them is built upon a false set of assumptions. “[L]ooking at the housing choices that Americans make while ignoring both regulations that limit the potential choice set and without considering the prices consumers pay is misleading, like saying Americans prefer Fords to BMWs because there are more of them on the road,” she explains.