Homebuyers pay nearly a quarter more for walkable homes, but that’s less than in the past.
In U.S. cities, homes within walking distance of schools, shopping, parks and other urban amenities sell for an average of 23.5%, or $77,668, more than comparable properties that are car dependent.
To determine how much walkability is worth when buying or selling a house, we looked at sale prices and Walk Score® rankings for nearly 1 million homes sold last year across 16 major U.S. metropolitan areas and two Canadian cities.
Walkable Premiums by Region
Here are the 2019 price premiums for walkable homes, broken down by region:
|Location||Premium for Walkable Homes (%)||Premium for Walkable Homes ($)||Change in Walkable Premium (2016-2019)||Walk Score||Percentage of Homes Deemed Walkable|
|National – USA||0.235||77668||-0.023||N/A||0.25|
|Los Angeles, CA||0.058||34583||0.007||68||0.52|
|San Diego, CA||0.105||60225||-0.003||51||0.29|
|St. Louis, MO||0.092||17196||-0.018||65||0.21|
Walkable homes are a hot commodity. About a quarter of active listings are considered walkable, or have a Walk Score ranking of 50 to 100, although only about 4% are a walker’s paradise, or have a Walk Score of 90 or above. While house hunters are willing to spend more for walkability, the premium they’ve paid for properties in this category has slipped 2.3% from 2016, when such homes in the U.S. sold for 25.8% more than car-dependent ones.*Canadian dollars
“The premium drop is tied to affordability. Properties that are more affordable are seeing the most demand and price growth right now, and homes in less walkable neighborhoods often fall into this category,” Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said. “There just aren’t as many people who can afford walkable neighborhoods. Many house hunters are also willing to move to less walkable neighborhoods in order to get single-family homes.”
Home-sale prices have been rising faster in car-dependent areas than in walkable places since September 2018, according to a 2019 Redfin report. Prices in car-dependent neighborhoods climbed 4.3% year over year in July to a median of $312,100, compared with a 2.3% annual increase in walkable locations, the data showed.
The results for this report differed by metro area. In Boston, walkability increased the value of a home by 29%, or $140,724, the highest premium in dollar terms of all of the U.S. regions we analyzed.
“Boston is very flat, and one of the most walkable cities around. Parking can be difficult, so people often prefer to live near public transportation. We’ve had parking spots sell for six figures in some neighborhoods,” said Redfin Boston team manager April Itano. “Our public transportation is great compared to other cities, and it’s pretty easy to get by without a vehicle if you live downtown. We also have a relatively high percentage of residents who prefer to work and live in the city over the suburbs.”
In Oakland, however, walkable homes sold for 1.3% less, or $9,477, than car-dependent homes.
The benefits of walkability have also changed over time. In 2016, Atlanta garnered the highest walkability premium—38.1%—of any metro area. In 2019, it boasted a 30.2% premium. That’s still the highest of all areas we analyzed in percentage terms, but it also marks the largest premium drop. Meanwhile, Tampa saw the biggest boost, with an increase of 6.3% since 2016.
These estimates compare homes by controlling for differences in property and neighborhood characteristics, including property size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type of property (single-family, condo or townhouse), age of the building, days on market, zip code housing density and the month the home sold in.
This report is based on data from Walk Score, a Redfin company that measures the walkability of addresses. “Walkable” means some or most errands can be accomplished on foot, while “car-dependent” means most errands require a car. For the purposes of this report, we combined three categories—somewhat walkable (ranking of 50-69; some errands can be accomplished on foot), very walkable (ranking of 70-89; most errands can be accomplished on foot) and walker’s paradise (ranking of 90-100; daily errands do not require a car)—into the “walkable” category. We combined the two categories that ranked below 50, meaning most errands require a car, into the “car-dependent” category.