What’s a good WalkScore® worth?

When you think about real estate values you may not consider the walkability of the neighbourhood and how it relates to property values. In reality it can have a huge impact to the long-term value of your home.

A big draw of city living is the walkability of neighbourhoods.

If you’re browsing real estate online you’ve probably seen at least a few real estate listings mention the WalkScore® of the property and it probably reads something like this…

… This home has a WalkScore® of 95! Everything is at your doorstep! Easy transit access!… blah blah blah.

What does this actually mean for real estate values though? Does the walkability of a home or condo building actually affect pricing? The answer is 100% yes.

A walkable neighbourhood is something that has holds a different value for different people, but people usually desire to be close to the things that matter most to them. People want to be close to friends, close to amenities (restaurants, parks, community events, et cetera), and in busy cities like Toronto they also want to be close to work as this can save someone hours of commuting time.

So what does a high WalkScore® actually mean in terms of real estate values?

First, highly walkable areas have typically outperformed those areas which are more “car dependent”. To show you this difference we can compare property values in Toronto vs. other markets. For example, we can look at the difference between Toronto’s average price increase (27.7%) and that of a less walkable area like Burlington (20.3%) over the last 12-months. That is a difference of 7.4% annually or $50,000 a year in price appreciation on the average Toronto home over the last year. The full 7.4% can’t be fully attributed the walkability of Toronto vs. Burlington, but it’s part of it for sure.

It’s not only a monetary question though when it comes to the value of walkability. With Toronto lagging behind other major cities in developing mass transit, there becomes a natural demand to be in areas that are more walkable, as the lack of quality transit can lead to long and painful commute times. This is a drain on someone’s personal and family time. The average commute time in Toronto is now 1 hour 6 minutes (one way). That’s 2 hours and 12 minutes a day spent commuting. In dollars that’s $80.08/day of your time (for the average income-earner in Toronto)… or $20,020/year of your time spent commuting.

The second reason walkability matters is because properties are usually more resilient to market shifts and downturns when they are in more walkable areas. This does not mean that those properties can’t drop in value, it simply means values are impacted less and bounce back quicker when the dust finally settles. In times when the market is shifting, having as many positive attributes associated with your home can only be beneficial. When you have a high WalkScore® your home is going to maintain it’s value better vs. properties in more “car dependent” markets, because the property remains close to a concentration of jobs and amenities. Things people need whether it’s an up-market or a down-market.

Finally, a neighbourhood that is highly walkable (in relation to your life), will ultimately lead to a better quality of life for you. You’ll be able to spend more time with family and friends, enjoy experiences and life beyond the four walls of your home, and you’ll be able to experience more of the great things living in Toronto affords those who call it home. This is a something which is more abstract and can’t be easily quantified in dollars and cents, but we know from experience it greatly improves people’s enjoyment of their day to day life.

So, how much is a high WalkScore® worth? It depends a bit on your personal situation, but as shown above it can have a major impact on real estate values and give you back personal time… and in turn have an impact on your wallet too.

Just consider your increased quality of life, the value increase over more “car dependent” markets of your home, and the greater security for your home to maintain value in a shifting market. When you look at those factors it is easy to see how a high WalkScore® can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Realspective is a modern real estate team in Toronto, Canada. We want to bring a fresh perspective to real estate and the urban landscape that shapes it. If you have questions or want to chat over a coffee (we’re buying) let us know. You can reach us at hello@realspective.com.

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