How ‘Walkable’ Is Your Property Portfolio
The idea of a walk score is relatively new in the Australian real estate industry, but the convenience of a ‘walkable’ property appears to be a driver of demand.
What is a walk score?
A walk score measures the walkability of any address by analysing hundreds of walking routes. Points are awarded based on the address’ distance to amenities. For example, Brisbane City has a walk score of 95, and because of the many amenities, most properties in this area would have a score between 90-100. Any score over 70 means that most errands can be accomplished on foot.
Find the walk score of any address here: www.walkscore.com
How can a good walk score increase price?
The walkability of any location can usually be defined by how convenient it is to travel on foot. And this convenience is now increasing demand and driving up prices.
Luke O’Kelly, Principal of Ray White West End, says many of his buyers are looking for properties where they have the ability to walk instead of drive. West End has a walk score of 88 and is the 8th most walkable suburb in Brisbane.
“The value of an apartment or house is definitely increased when the walkability factor is higher. It adds additional value to the price because buyers are not wanting to get in their cars to go and do the shopping or get a coffee,” says O’Kelly.
An example of how a good walk score can increase value can be seen in West End, with the development of the new Montague Markets.
“If you were buying on the Montague Road river end of West End before the new development, you needed to get in a car to easily get to a grocery store,” says O’Kelly.
“Just having Montague Markets go in and having a Woolworths a few steps away from some apartments has definitely added a lot of value. People are willing to pay a bit more for properties that are more convenient and closer to all the main amenities.”
The Montague Markets and other new developments in Brisbane show that an increase in infrastructure has a very positive impact on local communities. The property values and walk scores in these areas have only increased showing a clear relationship between convenience and price growth.
With more developments planned for Brisbane, the proposed Green Bridges Program is set to positively impact the walk scores of multiple inner-city suburbs. The construction of five new bridges will connect more areas and make it even easier to get around the city on foot. Rob Honeycombe of Bees Nees City Realty, recognises that there could be price uplifts after completion of the new bridges that have been proposed by the Brisbane City Council.
Inner-city apartments may also see a benefit from these new developments due to convenience being the primary reason many choose to live in the CBD. Colin Walsh, Principal of Ray White Inner Brisbane Apartments, says the value of inner-city living is of higher value due to the unique lifestyle that it provides.
“You’ll be around the corner from your favourite café, restaurant or bar and this convenience is why people choose apartments,” says Walsh.
Along with convenience and lifestyle factors, apartment living means facilities, security, easy maintenance, local community and relative affordability compared to houses.
Walkability and COVID-19
Areas with a high walk score were predicted to increase in price in 2020 and the importance of walkability has only become more apparent throughout the pandemic. By living within walking distance of parks, restaurants and cafes, the lockdown was made easier, even with heavy restrictions.
“COVID-19 definitely accentuated the need to go out to the park and go for a walk. There was a lot of people in West End taking advantage of this throughout this time,” says O’Kelly.
“Moving forward, people will definitely value that a lot higher and start to reassess everything to make sure where their living is very convenient.”
Using walk scores to sell
Walkability and convenience are key factors to highlight in a sales campaign. Most buyers who are looking for property in convenient areas, are doing so for a reason.
“Buyers are attracted by the convenience in the first place,” says Walsh.
“For example, everyone who wants to buy in Newstead knows that you’ve got the Gasworks, the parks and the walkways, but it’s still very important to outline this.”
Convenient and accessible amenities are very important to buyers but there are other features that come into play for walkability. Close proximity to schools, universities and workplaces is also vital to consider when selling based on walkability. For students and workers, the convenience of walking is a big drawcard of areas with a high walk score. For families, schools are a major bonus and properties in specific catchment zones tend to fetch higher prices.
“When we’re talking to buyers at the moment, a lot are buying because of the schools that are close by,” says O’Kelly.
“You can walk to the city and both major university campuses from West End, it’s almost a central hub and definitely a good place to buy because of it.”
By using walk scores, agents can now accurately measure the convenience of every address on their property portfolio. This can be incredibly beneficial in targeting specific buyers who are seeking a more convenient lifestyle.