Walk this way for a price hike

WHAT IT’S WORTH

Herald Sun - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Nathan Mawby

WALK­ING dis­tance to schools, shops, parks, trans­port and a hefty price pre­mium. It’s an old ch­est­nut in real es­tate agents’ arse­nal of com­pelling rea­sons for you to buy the house they’re sell­ing.

But closer anal­y­sis of Melbourne’s most walk­ing-friendly sub­urbs has re­vealed be­ing a short stroll from ev­ery­thing can make a big­ger dif­fer­ence to a prop­erty’s value than you might ex­pect.

Melbourne buy­ers’ ad­vo­cate firm Se­cret Agent com­pared sales data against a re­cently re­leased rank­ing of Melbourne sub­urbs by Walk Score, an agency that mea­sures how foottraffic friendly a sub­urb is and ranks it out of 100.

Realestate has taken a look at the com­bined data, and asked in­dus­try ex­perts about who sees ‘‘walk­a­bil­ity’’ as a fac­tor and how it is likely to af­fect home val­ues in years to come.

THE RE­SEARCH

It will come as no sur­prise that Melbourne’s in­ner sub­urbs scored the best re­sults on Walk Score.

Prox­im­ity to restau­rants, cof­fee shops, gro­cery stores, schools, parks, trans­port and any num­ber of life­style ben­e­fits im­proves along­side higher pop­u­la­tion den­sity.

But the de­gree of im­pact this has on prices sur­prised Se­cret Agent founder Paul Os­borne.

His firm’s anal­y­sis found that, for ev­ery five-point im­prove­ment on the Walk Score, there is a $298 per square me­tre im­prove­ment for prop­erty value, in Melbourne’s in­ner sub­urbs.

‘‘That can be an ex­tra $60,000, so it makes a dif­fer­ence — es­pe­cially if you go from a score of 60 to 90,’’ Mr Os­borne said.

Walk Score chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Josh Hert said peo­ple were in­creas­ingly us­ing the sys­tem to seek out homes that would min­imise their daily travel times.

‘‘When de­cid­ing where to live, peo­ple want to know the clos­est gro­cery stores, restau­rants, shop­ping, schools and parks, and to find a shorter com­mute,’’ Mr Hert said.

And while prices do not have such a link to walk­a­bil­ity in Melbourne’s outer sub­urbs, the Se­cret Agent WALK SCORE PRICE SQ M 95-100 ............................... $4419 90-95 ................................. $4194 85-90 .................................. $3517 80-85 ................................. $3368 75-80 ..................................$2925 70-75.................................. $2824 65-70 .................................. $2521 60-65 ................................. $2334 * Source: Walk Score and Se­cret Agent re­search noted that if cur­rent govern­ment ini­tia­tives to in­tro­duce more em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and mixed-use de­vel­op­ments there are suc­cess­ful, they too will see a greater em­pha­sis on walk­a­bil­ity.

WALK­ING TO­DAY

Pro­fes­sor Richard Reed, a Deakin Univer­sity real es­tate ex­pert, said sub­urbs within 5km of Melbourne had tra­di­tion­ally been viewed as ‘‘walk­a­ble’’.

The trend has been driven by prox­im­ity to ameni­ties en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to walk more, and by typ­i­cally lower vol­umes of car park­ing per prop­erty.

‘‘The wide­spread park­ing re­stric­tions there have been con­tin­u­ally in­creased, where many ar­eas do not have guest per­mits is­sued by the lo­cal govern­ment au­thor­ity,’’ Prof Reed said.

‘‘At the other end of the scale, the sub­urbs lo­cated more than ap­prox­i­mately 5km from the CBD are not con­sid­ered to be walk­a­ble and are per­ceived as re­quir­ing ve­hi­cle ac­cess.’’

On an ob­ser­va­tional ba­sis, Mr Os­borne noted properties that

WHO WALKS WHERE

Young fam­i­lies:

Child­less cou­ples:

Older cou­ples and sin­gles: boasted more ameni­ties in walk­ing dis­tance had an ad­van­tage when it came time to sell.

‘‘They will have less time on the mar­ket,’’ he said. ‘‘(And) there’s a lot more value to have high walk­a­bil­ity in a prop­erty than not, and over the last decade that’s changed a lot.’’

Mr Os­borne points to the sub­urb of Ivan­hoe where in the past homes away from the main shop­ping strips and trans­port hubs were the pre­ferred choice, but over the past 10 years the trend has re­versed.

Har­courts Vic­to­ria chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Sad­hana Smiles agrees.

‘‘If your prop­erty is close to ameni­ties, you are more likely to get more peo­ple into it and you are more likely to get more peo­ple pre­pared to pay to be close to the school or the train line or the cafe hub,’’ she said.

Har­courts have been us­ing Walk Score data for three years and Ms Smiles said walk­a­bil­ity was a ma­jor fac­tor for in­vestors.

WALK­ING INTO THE FU­TURE

As the cost of petrol rises and work­ing days get longer, fur­ther im­por­tance will in­evitably be placed on how close homes are to just about ev­ery­thing.

At the mo­ment, young, pro­fes­sional cou­ples and sin­gles where the en­tire house­hold is work­ing and rarely has time to cook din­ner ac­count for the bulk of res­i­dents in Melbourne’s most walk­a­ble lo­ca­tions.

But they’re fac­ing in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from the baby-boomer gen­er­a­tion who are plan­ning on a low-main­te­nance life­style later in life, ac­cord­ing to Mr Os­borne.

‘‘Our age­ing pop­u­la­tion are look­ing for ar­eas they can get around on foot,’’ Mr Os­borne said.

‘‘And they like to have a lure to get the kids to come and visit them, like the cafes in Fitzroy.’’

Ms Smiles ex­pects that, if pub­lic trans­port fre­quency and re­li­a­bil­ity im­proves, cars may be­come less of a fac­tor for Melbourne’s in­ner-city dwellers.

‘‘As our city be­comes more and more dense, how close we are to ameni­ties and fa­cil­i­ties will be­come more and more im­por­tant,’’ Ms Smiles said. ‘‘A lot of those younger gen­er­a­tions are not go­ing to want to live 20 or 30km out of town.’’

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