Self-driving cars and buying your next home

for sale sign outside houseTechnology has made homes more efficient and environmentally friendly, while also making them more comfortable.
Technology has made the business of real estate become increasingly easier through electronic communications and electronic signatures.
Technology has also made finding a home much easier too. It’s obvious that the real estate industry has been greatly impacted by technology, but will selfdriving car technology impact real estate?

A curious article that appeared in a recent issue of Appraisal Journal suggests that selfdriving cars will eventually influence real estate (A Largely Unnoticed Impact on Real Estate-Self-Driven Vehicles; Appraisal Journal; Winter2017, Vol. 85, No.1, p51-59).
The authors, Levine, Segev, and Thode, discuss how self-driving cars will likely become a standard on our roads, as well as likely changing the way we think about where we live.
There is a suggestion that the wide spread adoption of self-driving cars could bring about a suburban renewal. As self-driving cars become more abundant, some suggest that would influence some home buyers and their decisions on where they choose to live.
The concept of owning a self-driving car could make the choice a little easier to opt for the less expensive suburban home with more land.
However, you should consider that owning a self-driving car might not make your suburban commute more convenient.
For many home buyers, a reason to move closer to an urban area is to reduce the commute time to their jobs.
For some, the thought of increasing their commute time even by ten to fifteen minutes (by virtue of an extra metro stop) is unacceptable.
Sitting in your self-driving car is not much different than sitting in a metro car or bus. So the notion that owning a self-driving car could spawn suburban growth may not hold water.
Owning a self-driving car won’t make the suburban commute less expensive. Many home buyers decide to live closer to their jobs to save money and energy. The self-driving car is like any other car, such that there are operating costs.
Regardless whether your self-driving car is electric, gas or hybrid, there are fuel costs. There will be maintenance costs too.
And of course, you need to a place to park it like any other car.
Even the value of commercial real estate may not necessarily be affected by self-driving cars. These vehicles won’t reduce travel time to the store, nor would they make any business more convenient than another.
However, a government policy shift, much like the policies favoring designated commuter cars, could tip the scales in making the self-driving car the vehicle (no pun intended) to changing the real estate landscape.
Creating special lanes for self-driving vehicles could reduce commute times, thus reducing fuel costs.
Requiring dedicated parking for self-driving vehicles could also influence commercial real estate.
However, like designated commuter cars, a major impact is unlikely.
Choosing where you live is a personal decision that is impacted by many external factors, including quality of life.
Of course the self-driving car is a technological advance that is surely to affect how you travel. However, it is doubtful that owning a self-driving car will largely impact your quality of life and how you decide where to live.
In fact, the authors of the above mentioned article point to a 2016 Kelly Blue Book survey that indicates that a majority of Americans prefer “cars that are not fully autonomous and retain some ability for individual control.”

Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX All Pro in Rockville, MD. You can access more information at



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