The importance of ‘walkability’ of your property

by Steve Van Derodar

How important to you is being able to walk around the neighborhood of your property? Most buyers agree that being close to everything is a paramount consideration. By that I mean, being near to parks, to doing errands, transit, banks, schools and to some, primarily to work. I know of doctors, who live near hospitals and finance workers who bike to work, to name a few. Being near the action is a lifestyle.

In sustainable urban design, the concept of walkability is central to its purpose and when everything is within reach, it has the most appeal among comparative developments: urban vs suburban environments taking consideration of relative time and access to many establishments. Trends show that developers are into integrated developments having residential buildings linked to malls, share buildings with corporate offices, near to parks or allocate open spaces, provide walkways when possible to enhance walkability. As the properties are within short distances from everything, the higher the demand and appreciation of value to property is.

A new entry in many property searches in metropolitan cities is the walkability of a property via Walk Scores.

Walkability, in my opinion, should include access to serene, tranquil walks even at late nights without fear from mobs, with security camera systems and being in a safe environment. Walkability can have different meanings to people in that they are able to do their exercise routines, go to work by just walking, leisurely walks around the neighborhood and what not.

“Walkability, in my opinion, should include access to serene, tranquil walks even at late nights without fear from mobs, with security camera systems and being in a safe environment.”

Last week, I was able to walk through both the Manhattan bridge and Brooklyn bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the first time, this does not exclusively reflect walkability in the context of the subject matter but offers a unique accessibility for leisure and fitness. I saw people enjoying their bike rides, pedestrians traversing via bridges, a number of those exercising: jogging, brisk walking, yoga – I told myself that these are among the benefits of having a walkable environment.

Having stayed around London’s Piccadilly and Oxford Circle in 2010s, gave me much delight that Trafalgar Square is walking distance to all the shops. Even staying in Singapore’s Beach Road, walking around Orchard Road, Suntec City and The Parliament, provided me such amazement: convention centers, al fresco dining; Bugis, and the India Village: electronics, Indian novelty shops… I was extraordinarily glad that it is within City Center, providing walking paths to virtually everything I needed.

In the Philippines, in Makati, Ermita, Bonifacio Global City and Ortigas areas, for example are very walkable distances to the malls, parks and many areas of interest. These places also have a high concentration of expats. Living in Makati for about 7 years, I made sure that I could just actually walk to work, at least, it was important to my considerations in choosing a place. As a renter, I have just moved from building to building over time within Makati Central Business District. Statistically, Condo projects in Metro Manila attract tenants with a need to reduce the commute to work and that is in a safe neighborhood.

Walk Scores
A property’s Walk Score is essentially the measurement of the neighborhood’s walkability and is available in the Philippines. According to WalkScore.com, the methodology for this score “was developed with the Walk Score advisory board and has been validated by leading academic researchers.”

Walkability is a measure of the number of amenities within a short walk of the address in question, as well as of pedestrian friendliness, which is determined through metrics like population density, intersection density, and block length. Walk Scores are determined on a scale of 0-100, with scores under 50 meaning car-dependent, with most errands requiring a car; between 50 and 69 being somewhat walkable, where some errands can be completed on foot; 70-89 being very walkable with most errands completable on foot; and 90-100 a walker’s paradise where no car is required for daily errands.

“Walkability is a measure of the number of amenities within a short walk of the address in question, as well as of pedestrian friendliness, which is determined through metrics like population density, intersection density, and block length.”

Notably, Transit Scores are available as well – a measure of how well the address is served by local public transportation. This is another important consideration If you cannot walk somewhere and do not have access to a car or bike.

There is a premium to these conveniences, and you should be willing to pay the price. On an investment, renters/tenants understand these and are likewise willing to pay for what they are getting. A recent survey shows preference of millennials to city centers so developers respond to market demand for studio units and smaller 1-bedroom like the ones in Japan, HK, and New York City. Especially for those who do not drive, these are what matter to them.

Legazpi and Salcedo Villages in Makati, Ortigas Central Business District in Mandaluyong and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig are some locations that have Walk Scores of 100 out of 100 and are considered Walker’s Paradise so daily errands do not require a car. You might be asking about exclusive villages but they are categorically different for reasons of privacy, exclusivity, and security that they can be located not necessarily within the city center although some of them are at much premium value. Their walkability is enhanced through its amenities, unique of their own.

The market understands the importance of this area oftentimes willing to compromise the size. In most surveys, responders consider that an ideal neighborhood would include residential units, shops, schools, and business where everything is within short radius. The demand for walkability is obviously increasing and so if your rental property happens to have a high walkability score, occupancy is almost guaranteed.

“Before buying property, find a way to see the walkability by yourself and see how it works for you and your objectives, in the end what matters is how it is important for you and whether it achieves what you look for in a property.”

As TN.gov would have it, walkable neighborhoods can improve health, the environment and property values. Walkable communities benefit young and old alike providing multiple transportation options to reach destinations for entertainment, learning, work, exercise, or relaxation. Obstacles such as high traffic, utility poles, poor maintenance and a lack of sidewalks reduce walkability.

Before buying property, find a way to see the walkability by yourself and see how it works for you and your objectives, in the end what matters is how it is important for you and whether it achieves what you look for in a property. Walkability means more for your investment, improving property values, health, environment, efficiency, and reducing transportation cost spending. Walkability of your property is directly proportional to profitability, efficiency, and personal mobility.

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(Stevenson’s experience in Philippine Real Estate spans more than 15 years. He has been involved in horizontal, vertical, vacation and commercial properties. He has worked as an International Property Specialist to markets in Asia, Europe and North America with Ayala Land, Federal Land and Century Properties. Through PhilHouseHunters, he offers real estate investment opportunities, marketing, and consultancy with a key focus to Metro Manila and Mega Cebu areas. Visit www.philhousehunters.com. Email at derodarsales@gmail.com.)

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