You’ve probably heard it said that, when it comes to buying or selling a home, it’s all about location, location, location. Now it seems that what makes for a great locale is changing slightly as walkability may be guiding preference even more than great views. Daniel Goldstein at MarketWatch reports, depending on the market, having a higher walk score could add a significant premium to your home’s value.
What is a Walk Score?
First you may be asking “What is a walk score?” The term comes from the site of the same name. The walk score takes into account how many grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, parks, and other places of interest are within a reasonable distance of your residence. Based on those data points a “walk score” is calculated that reflects how easy it is to get those places of interest without a vehicle. Homes with scores below 50 are considered to be in car-dependent areas, while a score over 90 means the neighborhood is a “walker’s paradise.” Interestingly only a mere 2% of neighborhoods score in that 90th percentile.
Over the years various home buying and apartment hunting sites have integrated walk scores into their listings and made them a selling point (or, in some cases, a dealbreaker). As a result certain markets are now seeing huge premiums paid for higher walk scores. In fact data from the realty site Redfin shows that homes in Atlanta command an average premium of $2,838 for every walk score point. That works out to an extra $84k for a home with a walk score of 80 compared to one with a 60. Overall Redfin found that one walk score point meant an increase of $3,250 or .9% to a home’s value.
While having neighborhoods with lots of shops, dining locations, and other amenities has always helped boost home prices, Redfin notes that the enhanced emphasis on walk scores largely has to do with the preferences of the Millennial generation, many of whom are now home buyers. A survey by the site found that walkability was a key home buying factor for 56% of 20 and 30 years olds. By comparison only 46% of baby boomer home buyers said it was an important factor.
Just as the market has changed to value walkability more, some are predicting this trend could be short-lived due to new market forces. San Fransisco real estate agent Tom Hendershot noted to MarketWatch that ridesharing services like Uber are already making neighborhoods with less-desirable walk score easier to get around even without a car of your own. Additionally he predicts that the inevitable advent of self-driving cars could ultimately bring an end to walk score premiums. As he put it, “Once self-driving cars become more prevalent, anywhere within a 30-mile radius of your work is going to be a fine place to live.”
Until driverless cars are ubiquitous, it seems that it would behoove homeowners thinking about selling to look into their walk score and talk to local real estate agents to see if their property could fetch a premium. Conversely shoppers who aren’t as interested in walkability should avoid paying inflated prices for such a feature and may actually want to avoid areas with high scores. Either way, that old “location” adage strikes again — just with a slight twist.