How Walkable Is Your Home?
June 21st, 2013
When I was a young boy growing up in a small town in south Georgia it was not uncommon to walk to the store or the swimming pool or the library. It seldom took more than a few minutes to get anywhere that we needed to go and it never occurred to us to get in a car. We thought nothing of walking to and from school. It felt good to walk and we were happy. Our town was no different than most small towns in America in the Fifties and Sixties. Community were built around a town center. All the goods and services that citizens required were centrally located and easy to access. Neighbors knew each other because they would meet in the street or wave from their front porch. We were healthier and happier.
Then suburban sprawl took hold of our communities. Large residential developments sprung up outside of town. Big box retail stores were created to offer us everything we could possibly fit into the back of our station wagons and then SUVs. We became a consumer society. We built bigger houses, even farther out, so we would have room for all of our stuff. We became so automobile dependent that we would never dream of walking anywhere.
So what has changed. The Great Recession hit. We noticed in early 2008 that suddenly clients that were looking to buy a home no longer wanted to live 20 miles from their job. In the Cary and Raleigh real estate market, almost overnight, commuting became a dirty word. Homes in the suburbs that normally would have sold in less than 60 days were sitting on the market for 6 months or more. Clients started to talk about living closer in to town to cut down on expenses. Walkable Urban became the hottest ticket in the real estate market. Now people focused on living within walking or cycling distance of their jobs, not just the local market.
We have seen this take hold all across the Triangle Real Estate Market. Cary has even formed a steering committee to look at making the town more walker friendly. Cameron Village and North Hills come to mind immediately when talking about walkable urban. These are neighborhoods that combine, living, dining, shopping, and playing all in one location. The National Association of REALTORS®, in a 2011 consumer survey, found that 58 percent of respondents favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.
Read more at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/11/17/Strongest-Housing-Market-Walkable-Urban-Areas.aspx#hSplp1tLweJovVSd.99 . Homes that are located in walkable areas sell for much more per square foot than their suburban counterparts. This is a very real phenomenon in the real estate world and I do not see it changing any time soon.
Just this week, a new sidewalk was installed on our side of Walnut Street in Cary. This allows us to walk to restaurants, a bookstore, a grocery store, coffee shop and much more in under 10 minutes. The country is changing and walking is back. I think that is a very good thing. If you would like to know what your walk score is for your home, visit this site: http://www.walkscore.com
In the meantime, happy walking!