Bikeable neighborhoods prove profitable for Portland realtor

picture-2The latest batch of annual census data examining Americans’ travel patterns came out this week . The American Communities Survey surveys a cross-section of the country at random to find out, among other things, how they get to work. Do they take transit, do they walk, do they ride a bike?

Portland continued their national dominance of percentage of people who ride bikes, jumping all the way from 4.2% to 6.4% in one year. The city has invested in making biking safer and more attractive, which has paid off with more people biking, fewer cars on the road and cleaner air. With biking growing in popularity each year, scores of enterprising people have started bike-related businesses to ride the rising tide of bike culture in the city.

One enterprising Portland realtor combined the growing demand for homes in convenient locations with Portland’s biking fervor to boost her bottom line — filling a niche that was previously empty. When Portlanders want to buy a home that lets them bike to the office, the grocery store, or the post office, they call Kirsten Kaufman, whom Portland Live calls the “Bike Broker.”

Riding around Portland on her custom-built bicycle, she showcases homes that provide easy access by bike, by foot, and by public transportation — that is to say, the kinds of homes that more people want these days, but that other Realtors might not think to showcase. Kaufman has capitalized on the fact that convenience, short commutes, and access to the community without having to drive everywhere is as much a marketable selling point as good schools or low crime with a growing segment of homebuyers.

Riding on bicycle also gives her a better sense of the neighborhoods she’s selling in.  Of her strategy, Kaufman says:

“I started doing focus groups by showing homes by bike to cycling advocates. All of the feedback I got was positive. Once I actively started marketing to people who want to drive less, my business increased. This year versus last year, I’ve almost doubled my business in the worst real estate market ever. I took that to mean it was a good idea.”

Doubled her business? Sounds like she’s onto something.