When it comes to home-owning preferences, walkability is hitting it out of the park. This is according to the most recent findings published on realtor.com. The poll, conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®, was based on 3,000 adults in the nation’s largest metro areas.
What’s most interesting about the 2017 findings? Walkable preferences were not just dominated by millennials. This new report shows that older generations prefer smaller homes in neighborhoods with easy walks to shops and restaurants. Older people’s preference for walkable lifestyles may be related to concerns about driving as they age. Some say it is because of the increased findings of health-related benefits.
Either way, this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Here is a breakdown explaining what makes walkable communities important to home buyers.
Walkability: What are the Defined Qualities?
According to the survey, 6 in 10 of those polled claimed they would pay a bit more to be in a walkable community.
So what exactly makes a neighborhood “walkable”?
The experts at walkscore.com break it down into a handful of key indicators.
A walkable community has to have a center. This can be a main street, central hub, or public space. The street networks have a profound impact on the amount of walking that takes place in a community. Streets and sidewalks leading to one central location will be well-connected, with safe crosswalks. These streets are specifically designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
The number of people is another benefactor. There must be enough people for flourishing businesses and frequently-used public transit. Diversity, revealed by mixed income, mixed-use findings and the number of affordable housing near businesses, is relevant as well. Or, the community sports a level of density and land-use diversity that is higher than the typical American suburb.
Designation of space, and how it is utilized, plays a major role in determining walkable spaces. Parks and public spaces for residents to gather and play are important. Schools must be built in walking distance. Buildings are pedestrian-friendly, constructed close to the street with parking lots in the back.
Walkability: The Cities with the Best Scores
To calculate the rankings, Walk Score analyzed over 10 million locations. They computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. The Walk Score algorithm then incorporates the findings based on the factors listed above.
The most interesting aspect of the 2017 findings was not the actual rankings. The survey showed consistent increases in walkable scores. Of the top 50 most walkable cities, only Omaha, Nebraska, saw its score decline. Even then, it only decreased .3 points from 2016.
How? Some cities attribute it to builders and city officials embracing the idea of densely populated neighborhoods. This means builders are turning their focus to popular, urban neighborhoods. They are constructing high rises, multi-family homes, and condominiums.
At D.R. Horton, we known the value of walkable communities. Our Roland Heights community in Baltimore, MD, opens in summer 2018. It offers nearby walking access to a variety of restaurants, parks, and other hot spots. This is an example of just one of our communities catering to this type of lifestyle.
Walkability isn’t restricted to residential use. Retail is seeing a surge in these types of residential areas. Residents are finding stores, cafes and gyms within blocks of their homes. This trend is on the rise.
Walkability: Why it Works
What are the real benefits of walkability? Simply put, walkable environments encourage walking. And walking is good for you.
According to a recent Washington Post article, the more walkable a neighborhood, the less emissions from driving. Walkable communities encourage fewer car trips. This minimizes air and noise pollution. Mainly because residents can feasibly walk to everything they need on a day-to-day basis.
With fewer cars on the road, communities can use portions of the roadway to build more green space. This space can provide services such as storm-water management and wildlife habitat.
Walkable communities improve health for most home buyers. The majority of our nation sits for way too long. We sit at our desks or make long daily commutes. Walkable communities provide increases in opportunities for activities. An increase in recreational-type activities can decrease rates of obesity and diabetes.
Walkability: Creating Communities
Good news for those who do not currently live, or have the means to, live in a walkable community. The popularity of this type of urban living has made many city officials jump on board when it comes to catering to this type of infrastructure.
At D.R. Horton, we have a number of homes located within walkable communities in suburban areas. We provide livable communities tailored to a lifestyle of outdoor recreational amenities. We offer hike and bike trails and walk-friendly pathways to area schools.
For example, our homes make up a portion of the Harvest by Hillwood community in Argyle, Tex. This self-sustainable “Urban Agrarian” community of nearly 3,200 homes is a city in itself thanks to a large urban garden of nearly 150 residential plots. It even has its own future plans to develop three on-site schools.
Experts at the Center for Disease Control are even getting on board as far as favoring walkability. The CDC published a recent article about the feasibility of reconfiguring and implementing strategies for becoming a more walkable city. It all boils down to three D’s: design, develop, and deliver.
New and previously designed communities and streets can be built to be pedestrian friendly. These streets should grant easy-access for pedestrians wanting to reach places for physical activity. In return, this will help increase the number of community programs and activities to deliver and help adult physical activity.
Do you live in, or are interested in living in a walkable community? We would love to hear your take on what benefits you from this lifestyle. Feel free to leave in the comment section below!