It’s time to walk the talk
WHAT exactly is within easy walking distance? Has someone checked, and what level of fitness and mobility did the said tester have?
This rather ambiguous real estate term can offer a confused message implying all manner of things to a wide array of people.
What is an easy walk? To me, an easy walk is 10 to 15 minutes on a dry, slightly cloudy, mild day where no hills are involved. To my 10-year-old, it is no further than the end of the drive.
To those gym/fitness types, a quick and easy walk will be several hours, can include many serious inclines, steps and the weather conditions are irrelevant.
I feel it’s time to establish some benchmarks so when this term is used in real estate we all understand what you — the buyer — should be expecting.
I suggest the way to calculate this will be to consider how far an average adult takes to walk a kilometre.
There appears to be a consensus of opinion on the internet that the typical speed is 5km/h.
However, is walking for an hour that easy?
It might be on a Sunday morning, carrying nothing more than a bottle of water. But when carrying children, shopping or adding a bus or train commute, an hour can be too long.
So to set a benchmark, I believe it could be agreed that 10 minutes, or about 800 to 850m, would be a very easy walk for most, even when carrying loads, tackling inclines, or just tottering home with a hot coffee and a newspaper.
The 20-minute duration is still pretty easy covering about 1.6km. But how about the 2.5km, 30-minute walk?
I would argue that when trying to carry a big shop, catch a train or find the nearest bus stop, this could be a bit too far.
In conclusion, my in-depth analysis, backed up by the years I’ve been walking, shows that the zero to 20-minute period can officially be noted under the heading easy. The 20-30 minute trip is pushing that term and over that, forget it.
You might wonder why I’m so intent on establishing these groundbreaking benchmarks?
I believe for many buyers, the appeal of an easy walk to amenities and public transport can really make the difference.
For sellers, this can mean an extra few dollars for your home.
I only ever live in, or invest for that matter, in properties with locations in that easy walk category.
The quality and range of what is close enough to be able to access on foot depends on your location type, that is, urban, suburban or the country town for example.
The interesting element to this is your suburb will dictate the quality and type of amenities close at hand.
For suburban areas, just having a park, a corner shop, or, even better, a coffee shop, will really add buyer appeal.
If you add public transport plus a wider range of shops and eateries, you could find the appeal and maybe the value of the home comparably higher to homes placed more on the fringes of the same suburb.
Perhaps your suburb has a train station, a sought-after school and these amenities are all under 1.6km from your front door, which alone could really upgrade your home’s market appeal.
Urban location buyers will expect more and the further away your property is from the hub of amenities and transport, the lower your sale value.
Even in our country towns, it can be possible to at least have the school, a bus stop and maybe a park within an easy walk.
So next time you read this real estate term, just quantify the figures against my deeply scientific, heavily researched easy walk benchmark and if it’s more than 20 minutes, inform the agent of their error — you can quote my article.
If it’s found to be more than 30 minutes to anything and was described as an easy walk, wait until it is the very peak of summer then suggest the agent test the walk themselves — obviously in their dark, shiny suit and tie around midday to be sure the term easy walk is justifiable.
Andrew Winter hosts
on the Lifestyle channel