All posts in “Real Estate Matters”

Quantifying The Value of Walkability and Public Transit

Here at Walk Score we see the headlines that the housing market is recovering, interest rates are low and construction is on the rise, but still there is uncertainty in the macro dynamics of the real-estate market post 2007 real estate bubble.

In recent months leading academics, consulting firms and real estate associations have touted the financial benefits of buying and living in walkable cities. While the Walk Score team prepares for Inman’s Real Estate Connect conference this week, we wanted to share some recent research quantifying the financial value of walkability, access to public transit and shorter commutes.

The American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the National Association of Realtors, recently published a study titled The New Real Estate Mantra that identified “a premium associated with walkability in the form of an increase in office, residential and retail rents, retail revenues, and for-sale residential values. The recession increased the premium for retail and office space in walkable urban neighborhoods; pre-recession (defined as 2000-07) there was 
a 23 percent premium per square foot valuation, during the recession (2008-10) it jumped to 44 percent.”

Percent change in average residential sales prices relative to the region. Close to public transit v. Not close to public transit (2006-11).

Percent change in average residential sales prices close to public transit vs. not close to public transit (2006-11). Source: American Public Transportation Association.

Using Walk Score data, the consulting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper and the Urban Land Institute published Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2013. This study shows that, while there are higher values in tier one walkable cities like San Francisco and New York, top “secondary locations… offering walkability and strong transit systems continue to outshine other cites” in terms of investment value when compared to areas with lower Walk Score ratings.

PWC and the Urban Land Institute summarize it simply: “Whatever way you look at it, tenants want to walk or be near public transit. Markets that offer both options will succeed.”

Along similar lines, in a study conducted on behalf of Fannie Mae, Dr. Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona shows that “for every 5% increase in the percent of workers in a tract who walk to work, the risk of [loan] default decreases by 15%.” Pivo goes on in his most recent report analyzing variables impacting loan defaults to show that “for every 10‐minute increase in the mean commute time for residents in a census tract, the risk of default increases by 45%.”

Read more about the financial value of neighborhood walkability and see how others are using Walk Score data for economic analysis.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Walk Score is about helping people find great places to live, work and play.  It’s about what’s outside the four walls of a home or business, being close to the people and places you love, having transportation choices, and living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Introducing A New Neighborhood Experience

Today we’re bringing together all of our quantitative data about transportation and places with tens of thousands of photos and comments into a new neighborhood experience.

Capitol Hill in Seattle on Walk Score

Our new neighborhood pages help people find the neighborhood that suits them best, to understand their transportation options, and to showcase what’s unique and special about a neighborhood — the community gathering spots, green spaces, public art, culture, schools, and the mix of nearby businesses.

Walk Score neighborhoods by the numbers:

  • Walk Score ratings and heatmaps for over 10,000 neighborhoods
  • Restaurant ChoiceMaps for over 10,000 neighborhoods
  • Transit Score ratings and transit maps for over 3,000 neighborhoods
  • Bike Score ratings for over 5,000 neighborhoods
  • Photos of almost 2,000 neighborhoods



Example Neighborhoods: Capitol Hill, Seattle  |  Park Slope, Brooklyn  |  South Loop, Chicago.

In addition, our new, free score badges make it easy for anyone to join the 20,000+ sites that use Walk Score. This also marks the first time that our neighborhood and city-level scores have been available to third-parties for integration into their web sites and mobile apps. Just click the Add score badges to your site link next to any score.

Become a Neighborhood Guide

Nobody knows your neighborhood better than you do. And now we’re making it easier than ever for you to showcase your local expertise by contributing photos and comments about the neighborhoods you know and love via the Web, iPhone and our brand new Android app.

People who add the best photos and comments become Neighborhood Guides. This is an opportunity for real estate professionals and others to build their local brands and to reach Walk Score’s audience of over 1 million monthly visitors deciding where to live.

Become a Walk Score Neighborhood Guide

Learn how to become a Neighborhood Guide on Walk Score.

Walk Score Neighborhood Guide Benefits

 

Walk Score Ranks Australia’s Most Walkable Cities

With a Walk Score of 63, Sydney tops our first ranking of Most Walkable Australian Cities and Suburbs. To arrive at this ranking, we rated the walkablity of more than 100 Australian cities and 3,000 suburbs.  Read the official press release and our ranking methodology.

Walk Score for Sydney Australia

Australia’s 10 Most Walkable Large Cities

Sydney Australia

  1. Sydney (Walk Score: 63)
  2. Melbourne (Walk Score: 57)
  3. Adelaide (Walk Score: 54)
  4. Brisbane (Walk Score: 51)
  5. Perth (Walk Score: 50)
  6. Newcastle (Walk Score: 49)
  7. Wollongong (Walk Score: 48)
  8. Gold Coast (Walk Score: 48)
  9. Central Coast (Walk Score: 41)
  10. Canberra (Walk Score: 40)

Australians can also look up the Walk Score of their individual addresses and find Walk Score ratings on Harcourts.com.au, Homehound.com.au, WestRealEstate.com.au and other leading Australian real estate sites.

“Adding Walk Score to our real estate research products resulted in a significant uplift in our site usage,” said Tom White, CEO of PriceFinder.com.au. “The thirst for relevant and useful local information, from buyers, sellers and agents alike, cannot be overlooked and Walk Score provides this in spades. We especially appreciate the insights Walk Score brings to consumers looking to lower the cost of their transportation by selecting locations that suit their preferred transport options.”

Walkability Boosts Health and Real Estate Value

Walkable neighbourhoods offer a number of health and economic benefits. For example, a 10-year long study of Australians by the University of Melbourne found that walkable neighbourhoods with proximity to shops, parks and public transit improve people’s health and wellbeing. And, over the past decade, home values in Sydney’s walkable neighbourhoods have outperformed the rest of the city and can attract a 20% premium.

Apartment & Rental Search in Australia

Today, we’re also excited to launch our unique apartment and rental search for Australia. Search rental listings in major cities across the country by Walk Score and commute time and mode preference (foot, bike, transit, car) on the web and with our updated iPhone app.

Australian Real Estate Opportunity

Australian real estate professionals can now use Walk Score to their advantage. Showcase your properties and market yourself as a local expert. Boost your home listings with neighbourhood information including nearby amenities and commute times.

Learn more about Walk Score for real estate professionals.

ChoiceMaps: A New Way to Measure Neighborhoods

It’s great to see more cities adopting plans with goals around access to neighborhood amenities.  For example, Washington DC’s new sustainability plan has a goal of having 75% of residents within a 5 minute walk of healthy food.  But access is only part of the story, depth of choice matters too.

In the travel industry, we’re seeing innovative companies like Airbnb providing more neighborhood information to help people decide where to stay.  For example, if you love eating, you might want to stay in a neighborhood with a lot of restaurant choices.

Real estate analysts want to track how places are changing over time.  For example, whether a neighborhood is economically vibrant (more businesses are opening) or whether a neighborhood is on the decline (more businesses closing).

We’re excited to announce ChoiceMapsTM, a new way to measure access and choice in neighborhoods.

You can explore live ChoiceMaps for New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Seattle.

Restaurant Choices in New York City

Restaurant Choices in New York City

In New York, the average person can walk to 12 restaurants in 5 minutes (remember New York includes Staten Island).  To perform this analysis, we’re using our new Travel Time API to compute 32,000,000 walking times for 8.2 million people to over 21,000 restaurants.  And we’re doing this in real-time (try moving the time slider on one of the live maps).

Measuring Neighborhood Choice

Let’s look at depth of choice in Midtown Manhattan vs. my home town of Topeka, Kansas.  The average Midtown resident can walk to a staggering 1,251 restaurants in 20 minutes, but in Topeka you can only walk to an average of 7 restaurants in 20 minutes.  Midtown offers 179 times the number of choices!

You can walk to a staggering 1,251 restaurants in Midtown, Manhattan.

In 20 minutes, you can walk to a staggering 1,251 restaurants in Midtown, Manhattan.

Tracking Neighborhoods Trends

Walk Score data subscribers now have access to historical and trend data for cities and neighborhoods.  Cities can use Walk Score to track the percentage of residents who can access various amenities — and how this changes over time.  Real estate analysts can track whether a neighborhood is becoming more or less walkable or how public transit service is increasing or decreasing.

For example, returning to DC’s sustainability plan, here’s a map of people who can walk to fresh food in 5 minutes.  Cities can use this type of historical and trend analysis to track their progress against their goals. Contact us to learn more about ChoiceMaps for your city.

Map of Food Access in Washington DC

Map of Food Access in Washington DC

And a hat tip to all of the planners attending the American Planning Association National Conference in Chicago who are hard at work to create more walkable cities.  Thank you!

Travel Time API Visualizations

Here are some visualizations we created with our recently launched Travel Time API.

Road Network Animation

Watch the network of roads in Seattle animate as we traverse the road network graph. View full screen animation. Try typing your own address into the “Where” field.

Commute Time Visualizations

This visualization shows public transit commutes from Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle. Each line represents one minute of travel time on public transit.  

Public transit commute times from Amazon and Microsoft at one minute intervals.

The visualization below shows bike commuting time from Google and Facebook in Silicon Valley, where each line represents one minute of biking time.

Bike commutes from Google and Facebook at one minute intervals.

The Walk Score Travel Time API makes it easy to create visualizations like these or add features like search by commute time to your website.  Contact us to learn more.  Thanks!

New Travel Time API from Walk Score

Today we’re excited to launch the new Travel Time API from Walk Score.  The Travel Time API allows you to rapidly calculate travel times to and from large numbers of places — and lets you visualize travel times on a map.

We’re also pleased to share that the number of scores delivered by our APIs has more than doubled over the past year to over 9 million per day. Thank you!

Hotel Finder API Demo

To demonstrate the power of the Travel Time API, we’ve created a prototype of a new way to find hotels.

Imagine you’re traveling to Seattle for a handful of business meetings.  Just type your meeting locations into our hotel finder, and we’ll show you hotels sorted by drive time, public transit time, walk time, or bike time.

Hotel Finder Demo powered by the Travel Time API.

Search by Commute Time

The Travel Time API can also be used to search for homes or apartments by commute time.  The Travel Time API exposes the same technology we use on Walk Score Apartment Search.

Powered by the Travel Time API.

Start Using the Travel Time API

The Travel Time API could, for example, also be used to:

  • Sort local deals by drive, transit, walk, or bike times.
  • Calculate employees’ commute time when looking at new offices.
  • Visualize what’s within walking distance of a hotel or business.

Start by reading the documentation or contact us to get started with the Travel Time API.

Happy Coding!

Why Walkability Matters to All

Walk Score CEO Josh Herst gave a presentation to real estate agents recently that highlighted why that industry should pay attention to walkability and Walk Score’s tools for helping real estate agents market their neighborhood expertise.

Since it is highly applicable to the rest of society, I wanted to share it. Watch this slide show via HaikuDeck. No audio, so just enjoy the simple graphics and information presented. It just might shift your view on lifestyle choices.

If you are a real estate professional, here are Walk Score professional tools just for you.

Explore and Add Places on Walk Score

Walk Score’s new iPhone app and website offer anyone a way to share and discover what makes neighborhoods unique.

Anyone can add a neighborhood gem (coffee shop, park, public art, store, etc.) or problem spot (dangerous intersection, poor ADA or stroller sidewalk access, sketchy bike lanes, etc.).

Real estate agent Terri Buseman is Walk Score local expert for ChicagoBecome a “Local Expert” in a neighborhood and/or city by adding at least 10 places (with a photo + comment). The user with the most places in one area will be featured on Walk Score city and neighborhood pages. Locals across the country have already achieved this (honor and) recognition including Chicago real estate agent Terri Buseman, Charlottesville real estate agent Keith Davis, Atlanta real estate agent Jennifer Kjellgren, Seattle-based International Institute for Sustainability’s Liz Stenning,  Seattle-area real estate agent Pat Giles, Los Angeles real estate agent Norma, Portland, Oregon local Justin, and Grand Rapids, Michigan local Josh. Will you be the next Walk Score Local Expert?

Watch our app demonstration video and follow the steps below to add a place.

 

How to add places with the Walk Score mobile app

  1. Open Walk Score’s new iPhone app – tap on “What’s Nearby”
  2. Tap “Add” icon, then either a) snap a photo of a place or b) choose a photo you’ve already taken from your iPhone photo library
  3. Add a new place or problem spot
  4. Choose a category and sub-category that best match the place (i.e., Outdoor Places then sub-category Other for a kayak shop on a dock by the water) – tap “Next”
  5. Add a comment about the place… and you can add a relevant hashtag that differs from category names (such as #wine or #kidfriendly or #soccer)

How to add places via the Walk Score website

  1. Go to www.walkscore.com and type in any city, neighborhood or address in “Get Your Score” search bar
  2. Click the map or the map button on the address page
  3. Click “Add a Place” button just below the map in the pop-up
  4. Fill out the fields in the pop-up screen: category, add photo already saved in a folder, place name, address, phone, website, etc.
  5. Add a comment about the place… and you can add a relevant hashtag that differs from category names (such as #kidfriendly or #soccer)
  6. Sign in with either a Gmail or Facebook account – click “Submit”
When you’re done, share the places you add with friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media site.
Download the Walk Score app or type a neighborhood, city or place in the search box above to begin exploring cities and neighborhoods. Add places that make your city or local nook unique. Please follow Walk Score’s Community Guidelines so everyone can enjoy the best experience.

Virtual Neighborhood Tours for Real Estate Pros

Walk Score’s new iPhone app and website offer real estate professionals new tools for sharing neighborhood gems and local expertise with potential buyers.

Pat Giles, greater Seattle-area broker, used Walk Score to create custom tours of neighborhoods and showcase her area knowledge.

“As real estate brokers we pride ourselves in being the expert on neighborhoods where we sell homes. Walk Score’s new tools give us another way to not only share what we know about a neighborhood with clients but do it in a fun and unique way,” said Pat Giles, broker with Keller Williams Realty. “When people look around a neighborhood on Walk Score and see your contributions they will know that you are an active community participant.”

Giles and her real estate partners plan to enhance their boutique group website At Home Northwest with links to their custom-built Walk Score Bellevue tour and Woodinville tour on their community web pages. They also plan to incorporate Walk Score into their listings to offer buyers a more complete view of neighborhoods they are considering.

“Walk Score also give us a great way to enhance community pages and listings on our website. There are virtual tours of the home and now there can be virtual tours of the neighborhood,” Giles adds. “This helps sellers by not only showcasing their home but also their community and everyone knows in real estate it is location, location, location.”

New “Gotta Have” Apartment Search from Walk Score

Coffee? Groceries? Schools? Car share? Yoga studio? What’s on your Gotta Have list?

Daily life can be hectic. So living near the places that matter most to you is important.

Our new “Gotta Have” search makes it easy to find apartments and rentals within walking distance of coffee, groceries, restaurants, schools, and more. And now, when you drill in to learn more about the location of a property, you can view nearby amenities and add your own gotta have search to find your perfect place.

Walk Score Apartment Search - Show Nearby Coffee and Groceries

Gotta Have a Car Share nearby!

Walk Score is the first apartment search to help you find apartments and rentals nearby car shares from companies such as ZipCar®, Mint® (New York and Boston), iGo™ (Chicago), City CarSM Share (Bay Area) and Hertz on Demand™. Walk Score currently includes over 4,000 car share locations.

As the newly released Zillow Rent Index shows, rents are on the rise adding to the already high cost of living in many urban areas. And the gas, parking and maintenance costs associated with car ownership (on average over $8,000 per year) makes finding affordable living even more challenging.

Car sharing provides a convenient and cost effective alternative to car ownership and, according to a recent ZipCar study, demand for car sharing is on the rise. This trend is particularly strong among Millenials (age 18-34), 70% of whom indicate that they would drive less if there were more transportation options such as public transit and car sharing available.

Walk Score is the only site to find places to live with a great commute, great access to public transit and, now, within walking distance of a car share. #DriveLessLiveMore

Walk Score Apartment Search - Gotta Have a Car Share Nearby