Walkable neighborhoods increase real estate demand

Walkability is the new trend in real estate. They might not seem related, but they go hand in hand. Photo: Little Italy, Cleveland OH/Wikimedia

MANILA, March 8, 2013 — Properties in walkable urban neighborhoods boost development and attract remarkable housing sales. This is according to a report from Christopher B. Leinberger, a real estate research professor of George Washington University in Washington, DC. 

In his study on Washington’s walkable urban communities entitled DC: The WalkUP Wake-Up Call, he reports that the next real estate trend will be leaning towards these pedestrian-friendly property locations. He explains that the walkability of urban properties will be the driving force of tomorrow’s real estate market.

Walkability, according to Walkabilityasia.org, gauges the conduciveness of a place for pedestrian activity and movement. The site also notes the characteristics for determining walkability, which the local government of London included in its “good practice guidance” for the development of its walking and public facilities. The criteria, termed the “5 Cs,” proposes that pedestrian lanes and facilities must be “connected, convivial, conspicuous, comfortable and convenient” to those who travel on foot.

 

Walkscore.com, a site that promotes neighborhood walkability and provides walk scoring and walk scoring data, also reports that in order to make a community possess such favorable walking conditions, it must have several specific facilities: first is a center, which could be a main road or a public facility; another is a frequently running public transportation and an adequate population for businesses to thrive; the third is affordable housing that is near business centers, workplaces and schools; the fourth is the availability of venues to gather and play as well as lanes designed for bicycles, pedestrians and public transport; and last, are the streets that should be facing the establishments parking lots located behind these structures.

Trend explained

Several factors are triggering this emerging walkability phenomenon in the real estate business. One, among others, is that cars are actually the second biggest expense for each household, as the site explains. In our current era, people strongly feel the effects of oil price hikes in their pockets and want to save as much as they can when it comes to inicurring fuel and travelling expenses.  

Another reason supporting the emphasis on walkable communities is the fact that they suit today’s existing trend toward healthier lifestyles. Such neighborhood characteristics as walkability have been associated with resulting lower body mass indexes in adults and higher frequency of physical activity in children according to the research conducted by Colombia University’s Built Environmental and Health Research Group. Alan Durning of Sightline Institute, also writing in Walkscore.com, noted that people get a certain “human energy” from walking around pedestrian-friendly communities. The highlight of living in walkable urban places is the fun and vibrant living environment residents and visitors experience while walking around such neighborhoods.

Walkability in Asia

In Asia, there has been a decline in the attention paid to pedestrian infrastructures and policies due to the increase of motorization in past years. But new initiatives to improve walkability in Asian cities are being pushed through governments after the Asian Development Bank’s 2011 report on the issues and state of pedestrian facilities in 13 Asian cities.

Today, cities in the Philippines, in particular, show signs of pedestrian improvements that are reflected in their real estate markets. Buyers are now vying for properties that have easier access to lifestyle perks and commercial centers within a walkable metropolitan neighborhood despite the notably higher costs. Also, top land and housing developers have receptively picked up on this trend and have responded to the demand to improve the walking conditions and ambience surrounding their properties.

Business districts Makati City and Bonifacio Global City have responded to this trend and have made noticeable improvements to suit the walkable lifestyle. Condominium and real estate developers such as DMCI Homes have constructed facilities and landscapes that allow for favorable walking conditions and easy access to transportation as well as to commercial establishments.

Neighborhood walkability in the real estate business was once just another negligible, minor feature tossed in to real estate literature and brochures to stimulate sales of houses and condominiums. However, because of the changing economic conditions and lifestyles of the industry’s target market demographics, the key feature of walkability has triggered a major shift in the marketing paradigm and has actually become the driving force behind the industry itself.

 


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Jona Jone

Jona Miranda Jone brings her expertise to the Communities page as a financial writer who is also an expert on mortgages and other transactions concerning property ownership.  Jona now lives in the Philippines, where she works as a freelance writer.

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