Talk about an ‘easy walk’

The Weekend Post - Real Estate - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW WIN­TER An­drew Win­ter is host of Sell­ing Houses Aus­tralia.

WHAT ex­actly is “within easy walk­ing dis­tance”? Has some­one checked, and what was the level of fit­ness and mo­bil­ity of the said tester?

This rather am­bigu­ous real es­tate term can of­fer a rather con­fused mes­sage im­ply­ing all man­ner of things to a huge ar­ray of peo­ple.

I mean, 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 with­out re­quest­ing some form of wheeled trans­port. It doesn’t have to have a mo­tor, just some­thing to speed up the whole process.

To those gym/ fit­ness types who drink their food green in colour and pureed, a quick and easy walk will cover sev­eral hours, can in­clude many se­ri­ous in­clines, steps, and the weather con­di­tions are to­tally ir­rel­e­vant. In fact, a strong head wind, ice or tem­per­a­tures of more than 40C just add to the fun.

I feel it is time to es­tab­lish some bench­marks so that when this term is used in real es­tate we all understand what you, as a 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. Ac­cord­ing to that interweb thing, there ap­pears to be a con­sen­sus of opin­ion that the typ­i­cal speed is 5km/h.

How­ever, is walk­ing for an hour that easy? It may be on a Sun­day morn­ing car­ry­ing noth­ing more than a bot­tle of wa­ter, but car­ry­ing chil­dren, shop­ping or adding that time to a bus or train com­mute to work … in th­ese sit­u­a­tions an hour is of­ten too long.

So to set a bench­mark, I be­lieve it could be agreed that 10 min­utes — that is about 800-850m — would be a very, 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 1600m. But how about the 2.5km 30-minute walk; is that easy?

I would ar­gue when try­ing to carry a big shop, catch a train or find the near­est bus stop this could be too far.

In con­clu­sion, my in-depth anal­y­sis, backed up by the years I have per­son­ally been walk­ing, shows that the zero to 20minute pe­riod can of­fi­cially be noted un­der the head­ing easy.

The 20-30 minute trip is push­ing that term some­what, and over that forget it.

You may won­der why I am so in­tent on es­tab­lish­ing th­ese ground­break­ing bench­marks.

I be­lieve for many pur­chasers the ap­peal of an “easy walk’’ to ameni­ties and pub­lic trans­port can really make the dif­fer­ence.

For sell­ers this can mean

those ex­tra few dol­lars for your home when you sell, if your property’s sub­urb lo­ca­tion places it in the “easy walk” cat­e­gory.

Per­son­ally I only ever live in homes, 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, ur­ban, sub­ur­ban or the coun­try town, for ex­am­ple. I have ex­cluded acreage liv­ing be­cause this hous­ing op­tion of­fers space in ex­change for con­ve­nience, and that is a fair trade for many fam­i­lies.

The in­ter­est­ing el­e­ment to this is that your sub­urb will dic­tate the qual­ity and type of ameni­ties close at hand on foot. For sub­ur­ban ar­eas, just hav­ing a park, a lo­cal/cor­ner shop or, even bet­ter, a cof­fee shop will really add buyer ap­peal.

If you add in pub­lic trans­port points, a wider range of shops/ eater­ies etc, you could find the ap­peal and maybe the value of a home higher com­pared with homes placed more on the fringes of the same sub­urb.

Per­haps your sub­urb has a rail­way sta­tion, a sought-af­ter school and th­ese ameni­ties are all less than 1600m 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 amenity and trans­port op­tions, 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 the next time you read this real es­tate term, just quan­tify the fig­ures against my deeply sci­en­tific, heav­ily re­searched “easy walk’’ bench­mark cat­e­gories, and if it is more than 20 min­utes, in­form the agent of their er­ror — you can quote my ar­ti­cle.

If it is found to be more than 30 min­utes to “any­thing’’ and was de­scribed as an easy walk, wait un­til it is the peak of sum­mer then sug­gest the agent test the walk them­selves, in their dark, shiny suit (with tie) about mid­day to be sure the term “easy walk’’ is jus­ti­fi­able.


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