Does Walkability Raise Property Values?
Making your community more walkable can improve your quality of life and increase the value of your home.
Walkability was based on a “Walk Score” rating of how close homes were to amenities such as restaurants, coffee shops, schools, parks, stores, and libraries. The group used the Walk Score to compare home values in neighborhoods that were different distances from amenities, but shared the same characteristics, including average homeowner income, home size, and home age.
A mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance added from $4,000 to $34,000 to home values, according to findings in the study, “Walking the Walk.” The gains were larger in denser, urban areas like Chicago and San Francisco and smaller in less dense markets such as Tucson and Fresno.
What makes a community walkable?
Dan Burden, founder of Walkable Communities, has developed a 12-step checklist for defining, achieving, or strengthening a walkable community. Among the items on his list: a welcoming public space where people can gather and socialize, speed-controlled key streets, pedestrian-centric design, and a town center with a wide variety of shops and businesses. Examples of walkable communities include Bethesda, Md.; Jackson, Wyo.; Madison, Wis.; and Savannah, Ga. Although you can’t physically move your neighborhood closer to amenities, there are things you can do to raise its walkability factor. Safety is a big concern for those on foot.
To address safety concerns in Castle Hills, a walkable community outside Dallas, the developer built wider sidewalks, reduced speed limits, and installed solar-powered speed signs. In Atlanta, a pedestrian safety advocacy group, PEDS, convinced 6,000 households to put up yard signs encouraging drivers to slow down, trained police officers on pedestrian safety law enforcement, encouraged local governments to use in-street crosswalk signs, and worked with the government to authorize red-light cameras to increase safety.
Improving walkability, in addition to making safety improvements, try these tips from John Wetmore, producer of Perils For Pedestrians Television:
- Trim shrubbery that’s blocking the sidewalk in front of your house.
- Pick up trash and litter to make it a more pleasant place.
- Support initiatives in your town to build new sidewalks and repair existing sidewalks.
- Be polite to other drivers and pedestrians when you drive.
- Set an example by walking more by yourself or with your family.
Walkability programs, a relatively low-cost way to get people walking in your neighborhood is to organize walk-to-school or walk-to-work events. International Walk to School in the USA offers a good planning guide with ideas for events that you can plan in as few as seven days.
Walk-to-work programs, such as those supported by the American Heart Association, use incentives and tools, such as pedometers, to encourage employees to forgo their cars and walk to work.