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October 25, 2014

Neighborhoods: More Walkable, More Desirable

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Neighborhoods: More Walkable, More Desirable

City planners across the country are looking to revitalize suburban areas by making them more walkable, CNBC reports. 

Neighborhoods that boast greater walkability tend to have higher resale values in both residential and commercial properties, finds a recent study published in Real Estate Economics. In fact, a 2009 report by CEOs for Cities found that just a one-point increase in a city’s walk score could potentially increase homes’ values by $700 to $3,000. 

"There's a strong preference for being in a neighborhood where people can walk to shops, restaurants, parks," says Joe Molinaro, NAR's managing director of community and public affairs. 

In NAR’s 2011 Consumer Preference Survey, two-thirds of those surveyed cited walkability as an important factor in choosing where to live. What’s more, the study found that consumers were willing to sacrifice other items on their wish-lists in order to be located in a walkable neighborhood.

These high-density spaces that blend commercial workspaces, retail housing, and parks mostly have been in high demand in places like Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. But now other cities want to follow suit. 

For example, officials in Woodstock, Ga., a small town about 30 miles outside of Atlanta, decided to counter its suburban sprawl by redesigning its city center to include more than 30 acres of the surrounding land, 300 housing units, 80,000 square feet of commercial space, and open parks. The move helped make the city more walkable. The change has helped to contribute to a 17 percent growth in the town’s downtown property values over the past five years. 

"Walkability plays a big part in an area's economic vibrancy," says Scott Bricker, executive director of America Walks, a national nonprofit that promotes walkable communities. "The most valuable real estate around the world is in walkable places, places where people are living and working in closer proximity."

Source: NAR and “Ditch the car? Dying suburbs revived by walking,” CNBC (Oct. 9, 2013)

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Is Your Neighborhood Walkable?