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The value of the footpath

Posted by Rona Fischman August 28, 2009 02:18 PM

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As a city girl, I traded increased density for walkability. My house has a walkability score of 92 percent. I find it a perk to living here. I think it has value.

So, I was pleased to see walkability validated by CEOs for Cities.

“A new analysis from CEOs for Cities reveals that homes in more walkable neighborhoods are worth more than similar homes in less-walkable neighborhoods. The report, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities” by Joseph Cortright, analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 major markets provided by ZipRealty and found that in 13 of the 15 markets, higher levels of walkability, as measured by Walk Score, were directly linked to higher home values, according to CEOs for Cities's press release.

The study found that in the typical metropolitan area, a one-point increase in Walk Score was associated with an increase in value ranging from $500 to $3,000 depending on the market. The gains were larger in denser, urban areas like Chicago and San Francisco and smaller in less dense markets like Tucson and Fresno.”

Then I read the report... Where does Boston fit in? As far as the writers of this report are concerned, it doesn’t. The cities in the study were all in warmer climes, except Chicago. None were in the mid-Atlantic or Northeast.

Another report released this month, "Effects Of Walkability On Property Values And Investment Returns," did address Boston. There, the data showed a mismatch between supply and demand, with not enough properties with good walkability scores available.

Walk scores take into account access to grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, movies, bookstores, libraries, clothing stores, hardware stores, schools, and more. I wish they included mass transit options; I think that’s a big omission.

According to Walk Score, Boston ranks third, nationally, as a walkable city. Here’s a map showing the best walking neighborhoods in Boston. First place goes to San Francisco; but I would rather walk here than on those hills!

The last Friday of every month is Walk/Ride Friday. Although I don’t get to the events, I do use my car less. It’s pretty hard for me, in my car-centered job, but I do what I can.

Do you think that walkability matters for home value? How about easy access, in general, to shops and libraries and schools?
Where’s the best walking places to live? Which cities? Which areas in the suburbs?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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