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Homebuyers want to walk the walk

By John Kirchner August 22, 2012

Make a list of the top five factors that impact a home’s value. Where did you rank location? Likely No. 1.

But what, exactly, makes a location valuable? Increasingly, it’s something called “walkability,” which is exactly what it sounds like. According to research from the Brookings Institution, an increasing number of homebuyers — especially Millennials — are seeking homes located within walking distance of restaurants, theaters, grocery stores and parks in a deliberate effort to lower dependency on vehicles.

And the shift to denser, more walkable neighborhoods isn’t necessarily motivated by the ever-increasing price of fuel, either. In a story in the Minneapolis-Star Tribune, real estate agent David Abele of Lakes Sotheby’s said, “I strongly disagree that it’s all the economy. People are wanting to be around people and be part of a community.”

In the same article, reporter Kim Palmer notes walkability is directly impacting the value of homes.

Until the 1990s, suburban homes that were accessible only by car cost more per square foot than other kinds of American housing, according to [Christopher Leinberger, senior fellow at Brookings]. But that equation has flipped, he said. Today, the most valuable real estate is located in walkable locations.

Currently, the most common metric used to gauge walkability is Walk Score, which rates real estate on a scale of 1-100.

Now, care to make any revisions to your list?