For many baby boomers, a key rite of passage was the acquisition of a set of wheels – car wheels that is. The love affair with the freedom to travel and explore extends to the housing marketplace where suburban communities require access to private transportation to get to most public conveniences such as shopping, schools and parks.
In the past decade, many urban communities are witnessing a revival of alternative modes of transportation especially with regards to the use of bikes and ones own two feet. Walkability scores, defined as giving a value of 0-100 for the proximity of a neighborhood to destinations of interest, shopping, parks, schools, restaurants etc are becoming one way in which potential home owners are judging the suitability and attractiveness of particular homes and communities.
Do you know your neighborhood walkability score? Do you live in a community which has carved out space on roadways to accommodate a bike lane? Just recently, Grand Rapids Michigan city commissioners passed a provision to increase the ‘safe passing’ distance to 5 feet for vehicles passing around bikes, prompting one commissioner to predict that there would be traffic backups for cars waiting to pass bikes while trying to avoid oncoming traffic.
Studies have shown that urban communities with higher walkability scores are faring better in home equity price gains than their counterpart neighborhoods which require vehicular transportation to access most public amenities. According to Zillow Talk, a 15 percent increase in walkability scores in a neighborhood have been found to correlate with an average 12 percent increase in home prices. (actual values between 4-24 percent)
What’s of most noteworthy for home owners in our opinion is the fact that the study indicated that higher walkability scores correlated favorably with increased resilience to equity losses even during the housing market downturn.
Additional information: Walk the Walk. How Walkability Raises Home Values in US Cities by Joe Cortright, Impressa Inc.
Additional Information: Walkability Scores for Neighborhoods and Apartment hunting