Why Walkability is a Must-Have

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Everything old is new again. It used to be that people took walkable neighborhoods for granted. The thought of driving to get daily essentials like groceries or even picking your kids up from school was absurd. Then, as our culture became more car-centric, features like "easy access to freeways" became key. Now the pendulum has swung back, and walkable communities are increasingly popular with consumers and businesses alike. Walkability is now a major factor in where people choose to live, work, play and shop. And more and more businesses are catching on.

Photo credit: La Citta Vita/Flickr


Why? Because walkability increases value. Findings from the 2012 Brookings Institution study offer useful insights into why and how walkability is now of interest to a variety of industries and sectors. According to the study, people will pay more for a home in a community where they can walk to shops, parks and other daily destinations. Price per square foot increases on par with how walkable the neighborhood is. Home values average $82 more per square foot in walkable communities compared to homes in less walkable neighborhoods. Same goes for rental properties in walkable areas, averaging $300 dollars per month more in walkable places. “Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places,” the report notes, explaining that consumer preferences have shifted and that demand for walkable communities and housing is not being met, contributing to higher property values.

Washington, DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood was one of those included in a study from the Brookings Institution. Photo credit: Dewita Soeharjono/Flickr


The National Association of Realtors' Community Preference Survey shows that 99 percent of participants considered having places to take a walk and sidewalks as top priorities in choosing where to buy a home. Six out of 10 surveyed said they would trade more square feet for a more walkable neighborhood.

Walkability is a must-have.

So what does this mean to businesses and organizations?

These findings offer useful insights and show how walkability should be of interest to a variety of industries and sectors:

  • Real estate for filtering property choices
  • Lenders for including walkability in their underwriting standards
  • Developers & investors for considering walkability in prospecting regions or properties
  • Direct marketers, mobile advertising & social media platforms for adding value to their targeting & engagement
  • Private foundations & government agencies for providing funding for sustainability practices
  • Municipalities & school districts for considering walkability as a design goal

The list goes on. It's simple. Not including walk ratings in the mix means not keeping up with demand. It's not just an add-on feature anymore. It's a must-have. Are you keeping pace with this trend?