Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

Walkable Neighborhoods Are Worth More

A new study shows that people will pay more for walkable neighborhoods.


You may have already heard of Walk Score -- an endlessly entertaining Internet tool that lets people discover how pedestrian-friendly their neighborhood is. Walk Score ranks neighborhood "walkability" based on the mix of stores and services that are within walking distance of any home in North America. If you haven't already, you should check it out -- but only if you've got nothing pressing to do, since it's pretty addictive.

Now, the good folks at CEOs for Cities have taken it on themselves to ask -- does Walk Score mean anything for real estate values? Are people really willing to pay more to live in a place where they can do daily errands on foot, rather than in a car?

According to their new report, "Walking the Walk," (pdf link) the answer is an emphatic yes: people value walkable neighborhoods so much that, holding everything else constant, each additional Walk Score point adds somewhere between $500 and $3,000 to the value of a home. In Seattle -- the only Northwest city for which there's data -- a point of walkability adds about $1,400 to home values.

Remember, the researchers who did this analysis controlled for all sorts of variables that affect housing prices: the size and age of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, neighborhood incomes, the distance from major job centers, and so forth. So their results don't stem from some spurious correlation -- e.g., that walkable neighborhoods tend to be worth more because they're closer to downtown. Nope, this is the real deal: in just about every metro area they looked at, walkability adds value to property. (Las Vegas, NV and Bakersfield, CA were the two exceptions. What's up there?)

In part, there's a straightforward economic rationale for spending more for a walkable neighborhood: reducing your car dependence can cut your transportation costs. This Reconnecting America study, for example, also found that housing is cheaper in distant suburbs and exurbs -- the sorts of places where most trips require a car -- but that every dollar saved on housing means an extra 77 cents spent for transportation. That's the average, and there are probably some families who are able to drop a car (or more) by living in a walkable neighborhood; for them, paying more for walkability may be a money-saving proposition in the long run.

Regardless, what the CEOs for Cities study shows is that there is a real and measurable pent up demand for homes in walkable neighborhoods. For decades, sprawl apologists have argued that low-density suburban development was somehow "natural," because it's what homebuyers "prefer." By now, though, it's clear that many homebuyers are wiling to pay a premium for walkability. The real problem is that the demand for walkable homes exceeds the supply -- which pushes up the price.

To me, that argues for policies that are designed to increase the supply of homes in walkable neighborhoods. That's good for affordability, good for reducing transportation costs, and a great way to help more people add walking to their daily routines.


This piece originally appeared on the Sightline Institute's blog, The Daily Score

Bookmark and Share


Comments

Hurrah for data! We need more rational, quantitative discussion of sustainability and research like this is a perfect example. My feeling is that creating a sustainable world is fundamentally an engineering problem, even though it requires a lot of creative ideas to work with.


Posted by: Ryan on 18 Aug 09

The topic of walkable neighborhoods is the reason why I purchased the home where I live. Back when I was in the process of making a decision, I found myself liking two condos in different parts of town. I had a dog at the time and I asked myself 'which neighborhood do I picture walking my dog?' I chose the one with wide sidewalks, places to eat and convenient shopping.


Posted by: Tony on 19 Aug 09

Post A Comment

Please note that comments will remain open for only 14 days after the article is posted. While previous comments will remain visible, attempts to post new comments after this period will fail. This helps stop comment spam, so your forebearance is appreciated.

The Worldchanging comments are meant to be used for further exploration and evaluation of the ideas covered in our posts. Please note that, while constructive disagreement is fine, insults and abuse are not, and will result in the comment being deleted and a likely ban from commenting. We will also delete at will and without warning comments we believe are designed to disrupt a conversation rather than contribute to it. In short, we'll kill troll posts.

Finally, please note that comments which simply repost copyrighted works or commercial messages will be summarily deleted.

REMEMBER PERSONAL INFO?
Yes No

NAME


EMAIL ADDRESS


URL


COMMENTS



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg