Real Estate 101: What Is a Walkability Score and How Does It Impact My Home's Appeal to Buyers?

Dated: May 10 2021

Views: 669

Walkability. It seems like a simple concept. A home is "walkable" if you can walk from it to other places most people like to go, like grocery stores, train stations, restaurants, schools, and libraries.

But there's more to it than that.

Believe it or not, a "Walk Score®" is included on most listings of homes for sale. Understanding the true meaning of a walkability score will help you both as a buyer and a seller.

Sometimes a walkability score can be very helpful while other times it can be misleading. If walkability really matters to you as a buyer, understanding how the score is calculated can help prevent you from ruling out homes that are more walkable than their scores may indicate. 

What is Walk Score?

According to Walk Score, a patented system is used to "analyze hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk."

Walk Score relies on sources like Google, Factual, Great Schools, Open Street Map, the U.S. Census, Localeze, and Walk-Score-user-community-added information. It is intended to measure walking distance to dining and drinking, groceries, retail, errands, schools, parks, culture and entertainment. 

Walkability is not, however, a way to discover homes with many beautiful walking paths and pedestrian-friendly streets. It is, instead, intended to give people who do not own cars a way to determine how easy it will be for them to access public transportation and amenities they need for daily living. While the score evaluates walking distance, it does not take into account safety, ease of crossing busy intersections, or existence of sidewalks/walking paths. 

Scores are typically not adjusted for suburbs versus urban areas, and it's not unusual for homes in the suburbs to have lower scores.

What Does a Walk Score Mean?

Here's how walkability scores are defined by Walk Score:

How Do I Know If a Home Is Truly Walkable?

If you're considering purchasing a new home and value the ability leave your car behind and walk, go ahead and check the Walk Score. You can use it as one factor in evaluating whether or not your prospective home provides the kind of walkability you're searching for. Try these methods as well:

  • Map it. Use a map website to map the home. Then map places that you and your family would like to walk to. This helps you consider only the places you would like to walk to, whether it's schools and parks or bars and restaurants - or both, rather than all the walkable places included in a score. 
  • Experience it. Map out a few places you'd like to walk to, park nearby, and take the walk. How long does it really take you? Is the walk safe? Enjoyable? 
  • Ask around. Ask your Realtor if the property is truly walkable. Check with people who live in the community. 

The bottomline is that a Walk Score is a useful tool that provides information you can use in conjunction with other information you can gather on your own and with the help of your Realtor to determine whether or not a home provides the environment you want for you and your family.

For more information about walkability or any other factors you consider when searching for a new home, contact your LW Reedy real estate agent today. 

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