We’ve written before how home buyers today are putting ‘walkable neighborhood’ in their buying vocabulary. We’ve been seeing this trend in the intown Atlanta for years. Home buyers today want to be able to walk to parks, grocery stores, restaurants and other shopping venues. And this demand is driving up prices in good walking neighborhoods. This article from Atlantic Cities and this study from the Brookings Institute shows just how much walkability is driving prices up (pun intended). While we’ve seen walkable areas become more desirable, even we were surprised at the differences.
From the article, On the other side of the equation, all of this means that truly walkable urban communities are much more economically vibrant than their drivable suburban neighbors. For each step up this walkablity ladder (which was constructed using the Irvine Minnesota Inventory of urban design dimensions linked to walkability), a store is likely to boost its retail sales by 80 percent, in part thanks to all this sidewalk traffic.* The value of your home is likely to go up by $81.54 per square foot. Average rent per square foot of office space, meanwhile, goes up $8.88. (These are all, by the way, correlations, not causal explanations, although Leinberger expects that urban researchers will prove that link eventually.)
The study also shows that due to automobile expenses owners in driving neighborhoods spent just 18% of their income on housing while those in walkable neighborhoods were able and willing to spend 30% of their income on housing.
As we’ve written before, retirees want to walk and drive less and young people really are moving away from driving. It’s a trend we’ll see continue.
We’re hearing it more frequently every day. People want to live where they can walk. It’s turned up in surveys of retired Americans and we’re also seeing it in younger Americans who drive 23% fewer miles than they did in just 2001. Young Americans are less interested in driving and prefer to live in areas mixed with single family homes, condos and retail. Here is a great article from Atlantic Cities that goes into detail about these latest studies. What do you think? Will these desires continue and change the shape of our cities ?
As a Realtor I hear it every day from my clients. “I’d like to be within walking distance to…”. It’s not always an easy task. Atlanta wasn’t originally built with walking in mind. we’re more like Los Angeles and our city grew up in the time of the automobile. Now cities like L.A. and Atlanta are ‘retrofitting’. Trying to make sidewalks better, doing residential development with walking in mind and even changing zoning to make the use of the automobile more restrictive and make walking (and biking) safer and more convenient. All this is happening because it’s what the market (people) want. Here’s a great article from Atlantic Cities about some of the benefits of walking. Some of the findings they discussed even surprisedme. For instance, every one point increase in Walk Score, property values increase between $700 and $3,000. Also foreclosure rates have been dramatically less in walkable areas and young people are wanting to drive less and less. There’s more info in the article. You should check it out. We already have some good walking areas. Downtown, parts of Midtown, Virginia Highland and Candler Park come to mind. But our city is making the changes to make every neighborhood better for bikes and legs. And we need it for better sustainable development.