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Chapter 23. What's Walkability Worth? (How walkable neighborhoods affect property value)

Updated: Dec 19, 2021



There is such a thing called a “Walk score”. It is a way to show how comfortable it is to live with just on foot or by bicycle at a point on the map.

From the 1980s, people began to recognize that a life dependent on cars is not good for health, economy, or the environmental issues of the planet, and they began to find solutions. As a result, urban designers began designing and creating communities having all the necessary amenities within walking distance such as homes, schools, workplaces, shopping spaces, restaurants, and train stations.


Early urban designers used the popsicle test, the progenitor of walk score, to plan these spaces. This is a score that an 8-year-old child can go to a store and buy popsicles only by walking or biking without crossing a highway or getting lost and return until the ice cream doesn't melt.


While the Popsicle score developed into a walkability score, towns that fit this new trend were created, or existing towns began to be overthrown accordingly. As a result, Millennials born after 1980 drive about 20% less than their parents' generation. And the walk score is becoming one of the criteria for evaluating the house.



Walkability and the real estate market

So, what's

the relationship between this walkability and the real estate market? Houses in areas with high walkability have the following three characteristics compared to houses that are not. Look at the table above for your easier understanding.

House prices are rising quickly.


Looking at about 15 years from 2000 to 2014, for example in Chicago, you will see that house prices in Walker's Paradise and Very Walkable areas have risen by about 40-50%, while houses in other areas have only risen 10-20%.

In times of recession, prices tend to drop smaller amount.


After subprime, real estate prices hit bottom around 2010 everywhere. However, if you see the above graph, the decline in houses in the Walkable Paradise area is noticeably smaller than in other areas.


Faster price recovery after a recession.

As you can see from the graph, the recovery to the pre-recession price was also faster in areas with high walkability.



So, do you have to consider your walk score when buying a house?

Not necessarily. High walkability does not necessarily mean that house prices rise quickly. The quality of walkability is also important. Even if you can walk to everything you need in life, walkability means nothing if the neighborhood is dangerous, or amenities and neighborhoods are poor.

And the lifestyle of the person buying the house is also important. I think that the first condition of a house is that the person living in the house should be comfortable. For those who do not like to walk, the surrounding environment due to high walkability may become an obstacle in life. So before checking the walkability, you should check if you are comfortable with the high walkability environment.

However, if everything else is similar in the same neighborhood, buying a house with a high walkability score would be the right choice.


Then, how do we see the walkability of our house or the house we are considering?

It is very easy. If you go to walkscore.com and search for the address, you will get the above search results.


If you have any additional question, feel free to reach out to me.



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