Most brand-new single-family homes are built on the edges of a metropolitan area because that's generally where enough open land is available to allow creation of an entire new subdivision. However, it's not uncommon to see smaller tracts of land in the heart of a city that have been transformed into intimate single-family neighborhoods.
“Each city may have its own defined term,” said G. Adam Baugh, a land use and zoning attorney with the law firm Withey Morris in Phoenix. “Infill is generally the development of vacant or under-utilized parcels within existing urban areas that are already largely developed around it,” he said. “Most communities have vacant land, which for various reasons, has been passed over in the normal course of growth and build-out. While this applies to both urban and suburban areas, it is more common in urban areas where there is new neighborhood renewal in older parts of the city.”
Close to amenities
Infill communities can be highly desirable for buyers seeking a new-construction single-family home who also want to be close to attractions and amenities. Many buyers prefer to live close to shopping, restaurants, grocery stores and other conveniences of life, said Brian Dworsky, sales manager for Cambridge Properties in Phoenix, who represents the Manors at Butler North, a gated community in North Central Phoenix offering 10 semi-custom homes starting at $695,000. “Infill communities usually exist near established neighborhoods that have been around for several years or even decades.”
Central Phoenix, Dworsky said, “is different from other areas in Maricopa County because it is older and more generational. Similar to other cities across the country, many families tend to grow up near each other and try to purchase their own homes in the general area of their extended families,” he said. “Central Phoenix is a well-established and highly desirable area that spans generations.”
Traditional housing communities outnumber infill activity by considerable amount, said David Garcia, vice president of land acquisition at Shea Home Arizona. But there is "a segment of our population who, for a variety of reason, prefer infill," he said. Infill communities are “surrounded by existing development, mature landscaping and diverse architecture,” he said, and if a homeowner prefers the idea of driving a short distance or walking to work and restaurants and having little or no yard maintenance, “urban infill could be the perfect choice.”
The main advantage of purchasing a newly constructed home in an existing and well-established neighborhood is that you might feel you are getting the best of both worlds — e.g., the latest trends in design, flooring, countertops and energy efficiency — in a location that might be closer to work and to all of the services you’ve come to depend on, Dworsky said.
"Buyers are interested in infill [communities] due to their central location, proximity to employment corridors and reduced drive times," Baugh emphasized. “Because they are often smaller development parcels, typical production homebuilders tend to ignore them and choose larger growth areas. This allows smaller homebuilders the opportunity to create unique and exclusive pocket neighborhoods.”
Infill communities are an attractive draw for infill developers as homeowners are opting to skip the hour-long commute, Baugh added. “Infill development offers so many new designs … it really depends on the size of the parcel, its shape and surrounding conditions that all play a factor in the type of infill product.”