Real Estate Data in Environmental Impact Statements

An Unscientific Survey of Real Estate Data in 14 EISs published in January 2010

I read 14 EISs from the NEPA Library to see what real estate data was being included in these documents. Below are the results of my unscientific survey.RealEstateDataGraph

The chart above indicates that:

  • 5 EISs had homeownership rates (i.e. 70% homeowners, 30% renters);
  • 5 EISs had median home value/price data (i.e. $200,0000 per home);
  • 4 EISs had total number of residences in the project area (i.e. 150 homes);
  • 4 EISs had vacancy rate data (i.e. 12% of homes were vacant);
  • 4 EISs had average household size data (i.e. 3.1 people per household); and
  • 3 EISs had new building permits counts (i.e. 100 permits in 2008).

Real Estate Data Sources

The majority of the documents used city and county level data. The US Census 2000 was the most often referenced data source by far.

So What Now?

I've been trying to decide what current real estate data to include in Cubit's Housing and Regional Economic report.  Based on my survey, I'm going to add homeownership rates, median home value/price, total number of residences, vacancy rates and average household size data to the Housing and Regional Economic report.

I'm going to use 2006-2008 American Community Survey data, because 1. it's more up to date than 2000 Census data and 2. it's available for large counties/cities (which are the project areas that were most likely to be used in the 14 surveyed documents). I'll also consider adding permit counts from US Census Bureau's Building Permits data.

Small Area Median Home Values

Small area home data is often difficult to find.

Small area home data is often difficult to find.

But I am disappointed that more of the documents didn't include small area real estate data, like for zip codes or Census tracts.  When I was writing NEPA documents, I needed small area data. Sure, county level data was helpful.  But if a project was going to displace a home, I needed real estate data about that specific neighborhood or zip code to determine relocation opportunities. So I'm debating adding median home values for small area geographies like Census tracts to the Housing and Regional Economic report.

Would median home value data for geographies smaller than cities or counties be helpful?  Or is city/county level data sufficient for your analysis? Or maybe you'd like a blog post on good data sources for small area real estate data? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or contact me.

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