Walk this way for a price hike
WHAT IT’S WORTH
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.
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.
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
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.’’