Home buyers in 2014 are changing their priorities when selecting neighborhoods for their new homes. Instead of size and special amenities, buyers want conveniences within walking distance and shorter commuting time.

Home buyers are increasingly showing their desires for walkable neighborhoods that combine a mix of homes and stores. In fact, a survey shows that the least popular neighborhood is a suburban one with just houses in it.

Sixty percent of Americans surveyed say they favor neighborhoods with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses that are easy to walk to, rather than neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation," according to the National Association of Realtors' Community Preference Survey of 1,500 Americans.

"Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, smart growth is typically characterized by mixed-use development, higher densities, and pedestrian-friendly streets that accommodate a wide diversity of transportation modes," said the NAR president.

"Growth patterns, economic development, and quality-of-life issues are inextricably linked to the success of communities and residents."

Home buyers say they're willing to sacrifice the size of the home and lot in order to live in a neighborhood with walkable features and a shorter commute.

For example, 78 percent of respondents said that the neighborhood is more important to them than the size of the home. Fifty-seven percent said they'd give up a home with a larger yard if they could have a shorter commute. Fifty-five percent said they'd give up a home with a larger yard if it meant they could live within walking distance to schools, stores and restaurants.

Questions from readers

Question: Are home foreclosures down and prices still rising?

Answer: Prices are moderating in most markets. DataQuick revealed its monthly Property Intelligence Report, which showed that foreclosures have decreased in 31 of the 42 reporting markets over the last month, quarter and year.

Along with a general decrease in foreclosures across the measured markets, the report indicated that January home price growth has leveled off in nearly all markets, even turning negative in others.

Q: Are mortgage rates rising?

A: Yes, they are generally nudging up a bit with occasional dips. Average rates on fixed mortgages rose for a third straight week as new data showed a surprisingly strong pace of new-home sales last month.

Rates still remain near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.37 percent from 4.33 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.39 percent from 3.35 percent. A report from the Commerce Department boosted expectations that the spring home buying season will be solid enough to lift the overall economy.

Q: Is HUD planning new programs and fees?

A: Apparently so. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan revealed HUD's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal in a conference call.

"HUD's 2015 budget request helps to create opportunity for all Americans by providing housing, capital investments and critical services for millions of families," Donovan said.

Q: Are mortgage applications increasing?

A: At this writing, applications are rising, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Mortgage applications increased 9.4 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Applications Survey. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 9.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.

The Refinance Index increased 10 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 9 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 12 percent compared with the previous week.

Q: Will we see a full recovery in the housing market this year?

A: We can expect to see the housing market cool off as we move further into 2014 for a number of reasons. Some are economic, and some specific to the housing market itself. And the implications are significant for companies in the default services industry, DS News reported.