Let’s take a walk (Jody White)March 30, 2010
In real estate it is all about location, location, location. Buyers want to know a home’s proximity to good schools and commercial districts. Sellers want to utilize every possible feature available to market their homes. In this time of economic downturn and a new era of environmental awareness, a home’s location takes on a whole new dimension.
More and more buyers are asking for – even demanding- homes in walkable neighborhoods. How can a real estate agent know when a neighborhood is truly walkable? “When people can walk or bike their kids to school or to the store, etc., they get to know their neighbors and their neighborhoods. This instills a sense of community that has an intrinsic value and makes people want to live there,” says Jim Duncan, a REALTOR® in the Charlottesville, Va., area. Walkability equals a quality of life issue- less time in a car equals more time you have for family and friends.
How do you determine or demonstrate a neighborhood’s walkability for a home? There is a free website (www.WalkScore.com) that agents can access that utilizes Google maps to show the walkability of any address. Here’s a suggestion on how to use the website to determine the walkability of a neighborhood: upload photos of nearby places of interest, or restaurants or historical sites to your listings on Realtor.com or your own website.
The agent or client that visits the Walk Score site simply types in their address of the home under consideration and the site lists the distance to the nearest restaurant, stores, post offices, libraries, movie theatres, and other destinations. The address is then assigned a score on a scale of 1 to 100. According to an NAR (National Association of Realtors) survey, 55 percent of Americans prefer mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. Walk Score was the website built to help people-agents and clients-find walkable neighborhoods. It is just another tool that we as agents can use to help deliver knockout service for our clients.
“As a green real estate agent I understand that the best investment in a home is also the most sustainable,” says Jody White. For example, if you aren’t dependent on your car you are less likely to be a victim of another gas price spike. If your home has a high Walk Score, is near transit and is near your work place, you are going to save a ton of money on transportation while protecting the environment. That is a good thing. We certainly need to be aware of the environment as REALTORS. “The biggest gains in value (from $700 to $3,000) were in the large cities with the highest densities and best transit systems like San Francisco and Chicago,” according to Joe Cartright of Impresa, a Portland, Oregon consulting firm specializing in regional economic analysis for CEOs for CITIES, a national organization of urban leaders.