Neighborhoods With Greater Walkability Have Pricier Homes

To build a neighborhood more people want to live in, design it for people without cars.

These days, more and more people want to ditch their cars and walk to work, school, or shops. While many people still argue that we should be designing cities–and all of society–for a culture of driving, it turns out that “walkable urbanism” is highly prized by the market, judged by the premiums people are willing to pay to live within walking distance of essential services.


Take a look at an analysis from the real estate group Redfin (which runs the Walk Score rating system). Across 14 major metro areas, it finds that each point on the Walk Score scale raises property prices by an average $3,250, or 0.9%.

Atlanta shows the greatest per-point premiums on median prices. But the biggest premiums are in cities where prices and walkability are highest according to the Walk Score ranking. Increasing a neighborhood’s Walk Score from 19 to 20 points (a low ranking) generates only $181 on average. But increasing it from 79 to 80 points commands a price increase of more than $7,000.

In San Francisco, which has a citywide score of 85.7 (making it “very walkable”), moving from a neighborhood with a score of 60 to a neighborhood with an 80 score implies a premium of $188,000. In Washington, D.C., the same move would cost $133,000, Redfin says.

The analysis covers more than 1 million homes sold between January 2014 and April 2016. Redfin discounts factors like property size, number of bedrooms, neighborhood incomes, and employment levels and uses a statistical method allowing it to compare “apples with apples.”

Interestingly, at the very top-end of the market, the walkability effect is not as strong. Among top-5% homes, each Walk Score point was worth only 0.55% of the sale price. That’s because buyers tend to still want lots of space, which generally means the suburbs or countryside, not downtown, Redfin says.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.