Neighborhood Walkability Drives Housing Market

Posted by on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 at 7:35pm.

The strongest housing market is a walkable urban neighborhoods, like those in the U Street neighborhood, according to a report by the Fiscal Times, a newly started online business publication tied to the Washington Post.

Neighborhood walkability in D.C. draws homebuyers who want a small town feel in a big city as neighborhood walkability makes a trip to the grocery store feel more intimate than a grocery store trip by car would feel in the suburbs.

While Washington D.C. does boast a strong mass transit system with the Metro and busses, it’s the neighborhood walkability that connects homeowners to their surrounding blocks, fostering a sense of community. Zillow, a residential real estate website, often scores neighborhood walkability in its listings.

A report on Washington D.C.’s neighborhood walkability, called DC: The WalkUp Wake Up Call by George Washington University’s business school, says the increasing focus on walkability started about two decades ago and has intensified as walkability has proven a powerful driver of the economy. “The new development model is walkable urban development. Washington D.C. stands at the vanguard of this trend in the nation.

Prime neighborhood walkability is mainly inside the Beltway, but spans seven counties in the area. The types of walkable regions in the D.C. region where neighborhood walkability is strong are: Downtown (like the Golden Triangle), Down Adjacent (Capitol Hill, Dupont, NoMA), Urban Commercial (U Street, Adams Morgan),  Suburban Town Centers (like Bethesda), Strip Commercial Redevelopment (New Carrollton, Friendship Heights) and Greenfield areas like Reston Town Center and the National Harbor.

It’s no surprise that people appreciate neighborhood walkability, especially with significant cost savings associated with not owning a car. Neighborhood walkability likely also encourages a friendlier and safer neighborhood as pedestrians get into their errand routines and see many of their same neighbors regularly.

The Fiscal Times article on how neighborhood walkability is driving local housing markets points out that neighborhood walkability appeals to everyone – young and old. But for those who eschew walking, there is a bright side to the trend: prices in some neighborhoods have dropped 50% - 60% in communities that don’t have neighborhood walkability.

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