First I picked my playground. No, I’m not kidding. It is an accurate description of how we ended up where we live. This playground was heaven to my kids: 3 separate play areas, a sweet little creek, paths to walk in the woods, and picnic shelters where they liked to sit down for lunch or a snack. We drove to this place nearly every day, until eventually we narrowed our house hunt down to neighborhoods that were walking distance from this park. So, no, I wasn’t kidding: we picked the playground first.
We were among those buyers who select their homes based on walkability.
The walkability tribe of homebuyers are Destination Walkers. In most areas, it is pretty easy to find a place to stroll after dinner, or to walk the dog. But Destination Walkers want to end up…somewhere. From my home, in addition to the playground, we are also able to walk to the coffee shop, the library, the post office, numerous bars/restaurants, even our bank and our pharmacy. A bakery for fresh bread. A small market for fresh veggies. The pool. The community fitness center. And our kids were always delighted that we could also walk to numerous ice cream shops, too. Having all these places so accessible means we got to do a lot of daily living on foot instead of in the car. And for “walkability” folks that is a dream come true.
I talk with an ever-increasing number of homebuyers for whom walkability is a priority, and a pedestrian lifestyle focuses their home search. Lots of young buyers want to be in communities where they can walk to bars and bistros. Other buyers want to be able to walk their kids to school. Some like the option of walking to work. And no one yet has ever complained about being able to walk to Starbucks. (In fact there was a recent study suggesting that nearby home prices increase after a Starbucks comes into a new location.)
Walkability buyers pick the amenity first, and then follow the sidewalks to find their home nearby.
Often they are willing to adjust the wish list for their home based on the housing stock that is available in the neighborhoods they prefer. In some older neighborhoods, for instance, this may mean they give up on walk-in closets. Or a 2-car garage. Or an attached garage. Or any garage (sigh). But for these buyers, it’s still a win if it is after work on a Thursday, and they just walked to the bar or restaurant or playground or yoga class to meet up with friends.
It has long been a tenet of real estate that the three most important characteristics of a desirable property are location, location and location. Sometimes that means “no highway noise.” Sometimes it means an amazing river view. Sometimes it means an easy commute. But for this burgeoning sector of today’s homebuyers, the Walkability Folks, it means…the sidewalk leads me home.
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors