Atlanta is widely recognized as one of America’s best examples of sprawl – but are home buyers really getting what they want? No, according to a new study by Georgia Tech. The study is the subject of this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, Study: Demand for Walkable Communities Unmet (PDF).

Builders of expansive suburban subdivisions may say they’re just satisfying market demand, but the market isn’t satisfied at all, the study says. Instead, there is a significant, unmet demand for developments that make it easier to walk from place to place.

“In all, about a third of metro Atlantans living in conventional suburban development would have preferred a more walkable environment, but apparently traded it off for other reasons such as affordability, school quality, or perception of crime,” the report says. It defines a walkable environment as one in which distances between destinations are comfortably reachable on foot, and the street network is well-connected rather than full of cul-de-sacs.

The researchers also looked for people on the flip side, who may have wanted more of a suburban environment, but that pent-up demand was insignificant, said study author Larry Frank.

People want more from their homes than square footage – 33% of home buyers are looking for walkable neighborhoods with different housing choices and a stronger sense of community.