On common ground
I was perusing the latest copy of NAR’S On Common Ground, a biannual journal discussing smart growth and Realtors. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t until a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, I can’t find that it’s published on line anywhere. However, here is the page where you can request hard copies should you or your firm like to have some on hand. This edition covers everything from understanding Generation Y buyers to bike friendly cities. It’s a great magazine with useful information about emerging sustainable trends affecting our industry.
One of the articles is about the benefits of walk friendly communities. The term is pretty self explanatory but factors included in how a neighborhood or home is scored are quality sidewalks, safe cross walks, access to retail and restaurants, accessible building fronts, and access to parks. The article goes on to report that there is mounting evidence that individuals who live in walkable communities are more likely to meet the Surgeon General’s recommendations for physical activity. I kind of give that finding a big duh…
In June 2009 a study was conducted looking at home values in various US cities in walkable vs. non walkable communities and they found homes in walkable communities garnered an additional 4k – 34k. In fact for every additional point a home scored for walk friendliness, meant an average increase in value from $500-$3000. Now do I have your attention?
On a side note, I’ve heard the objection that using the term “walkability” is a fair housing violation. I asked the instructor at my last ethics training in December and he felt NAR’s position was the term was not a violation. It simply is a way of evaluating a neighborhood in terms of a need for an automobile to get around. I’m up for debating the point if someone else has a different understanding.
What’s Your Walk Score?
At the end of the day, I don’t think there is going to be a mass exodus from the gas guzzling burbs but with more than 50% of Realtors and builders reporting growing interest by consumers in walk friendly communities, it is at least a term we should all be familiar with. Fortunately, there is a really fun website that provides a walk score for any address should you have clients who would like to purchase a home in a walk friendly community. There are even some fun widgets for your site or blog if you so feel inclined.