Walkability; A Value in Today’s Housing Market

What do downtown Miami and midtown Detroit have in common? They both can claim thriving real estate markets in one of the worst down housing markets in history. While the sources of prosperity are certainly not entirely identical – Quicken Loans appears to be taking over midtown Detroit while Miami’s condo market is being described as one of the hottest in the country – one factor in the two areas is very similar – and very appealing to today’s buyer. That factor is walkability.

Does that word sound unfamiliar? To many, walkability is a factor that they simply do not consider when they are purchasing a home. How many of us can currently walk downstairs to work (unless we already work at home)? Probably not many. How many of use hop across the street to dine out rather than hopping in the car to get to our favorite restaurant? Again, probably not many. But that option could be sounding pretty appealing to you right now, particularly given the price of gas these days! And you’re not alone; more and more home-buyers are factoring in convenience and accessibility by foot or public transit when buying a home, which means that it is time for investors to start factoring this issue in as well.

“Walkability” is the term used to describe how friendly an area is to walking. You can actually go online and plug in any given street address and get a “walk score” that will help you determine how close you are to a variety of amenities including shopping, parks, dining and schools. The more amenities you can safely walk to, the higher your “walk score.” For example, if you must drive nearly everywhere, your address would be considered “car-dependent” and receive a score below 10 out of 100.

Of course, when considering walkability you also need to consider who your target market is. A family of four is likely to be more used to driving places and more willing to purchase a home that requires them to do so if it means that they can live in a safe, pleasant, family-friendly neighborhood than a young, single professional will be. One of the reasons that Miami is experiencing such growth (although some experts warn that this mini-bubble could be just about over) is that the downtown area is so attractive to young professionals. As a result, they are bidding up the properties and there is a great deal of competition for condos in that area.

While certainly not the only factor that most buyers consider when purchasing a home, certain demographics –the young and the old – tend to weight this issue much more heavily when selecting new places to live.
How do you weight walkability when purchasing an investment property? Do you think it is over-rated?

*God Speed*
TLD Investments LLC


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