Fifteen years ago, Buyers looking for the Bay Area "dream house" were likely to tout a bay view as a must-have. In today's market a view is nice, but more and more buyers are willing to sacrifice a fleeting glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge for the more practical ability to walk to a local coffee shop.
A new study, Walking the Walk, came out in August 2009 with a subtitle; "How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities." The research shows that homes in walkable neighborhoods are worth more money in nearly all metropolitan areas. And yes, coffee shops count. The Walk Score algorithm used in the study looks at 13 categories; coffee shop, grocery store, movie theater, park, bookstore, drug store, clothing/music store, restaurant, bar, school, library, fitness and hardware store. The study author, Joe Cortright, states, "An additional one point improvement in average Walk Scores adds between $700 and $3,000 to the value of a typical house, holding all other factors constant" (Remind me to tip my barista.) Berkeley Hills Realty Agents know from anecdotal experience that this is true, and now we are happy to have direct data to point towards.
Local amenities not only support the value of our housing stock, but also add to the joy of our daily lives. It just feels good to live and work in a vibrant community with diverse offerings. Not so good, however, is watching this marathon recession take its toll on our local treasures.
Noticing too many vacant tables at our favorite restaurants, impassioned Bay Area Realtors have recently taken up the cause. Via twitter and facebook a couple of Berkeley agents with the handles @berkhills and @serkes have started a proactive campaign. The first Realtor Feedup happened last night in support of our local restaurants. Realtors met at a local British style pub, the Kensington Circus, to start a weekly movement in direct support of our local eateries. The intent is to support a new local restaurant each week-- by arriving in mass and paying by cash.
Support your favorite walkable businesses and protect the value of your own home while you're at it. Better yet, form your own dinner club and pay in cash. It doesn't cost you any more to pay cash, but it does save the restaurant on bank charges.
To find out your homes walkability rating via the algorithms used in the "Walking the Walk" study, go to WalkScore.com. If you wish to participate in the next East Bay Realtor Feedup, we are headed to Bistro 1491 this next Thursday at 6:00. To get breaking Realtor Feedup updates, follow @berkhills and @serkes on Twitter.