Demand for walkable neighborhoods is increasing and this demand is changing real estate. People of all ages are recognizing the benefits of living in a place where they can walk to nearby shops, restaurants, recreation, and public transportation. The benefits are many — convenience, reduced time spent driving, and the health benefit of building walking into your day. But more than that, being walkable may be a major factor in your community staying economically competitive.
Walkable neighborhoods are driving economic growth as employers and businesses recognize the value of locating in these places to attract employees and customers. And walkable neighborhoods are not just in big cities. They can be in smaller cities and towns, older suburban communities or newly built suburban developments.
REALTORS® are experiencing this interest in walking from their clients, and have responded by providing information to buyers about the walkability of neighborhoods. Many REALTOR® websites and Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) include this information, such as providing a WalkScore (www.walkscore.com) for properties. Some REALTOR® associations have seen the benefit of improving the pedestrian environment of their cities and towns, such as the Coastal Carolina REALTORS® Association, which used an NAR Smart Growth Grant to fund a walkability study in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Many cities and towns are looking at a new type of zoning (Form-Based Codes) so that new development will foster walkable neighborhoods.
Communities and REALTORS® who want their cities and towns to remain competitive — in business attraction, jobs, and the residential and commercial real estate markets — are making walkability a part of their economic development strategy.