Real estate: Time to update the conventional wisdom

To the old conventional wisdom for real estate,

sign to homes

…you have been replaced:

Trace condos walkscore 100

You may have already read about WalkScore when we covered it last year, or seen the widget in our sidebar here on the blog. (SGA office = Walk Score 100!) It’s been a good year for Matt Lerner and the other Seattle developers who created the tool in 2007. The tool’s burgeoning popularity led to its use by enterprising Realtors for marketing, but perhaps most importantly, Walk Score is assisting buyers in finding housing in convenient, walkable locations where they can be insulated from rising gasoline prices — locations in high demand these days.

The New York Times Magazine talked a little bit about the success of Walk Score in their recent “Green Issue” — and how it points to the rising demand for places and housing that have high Walk Scores.

More than a million addresses were searched in the site’s first month. Matt Lerner, one of the site’s developers, knew the concept had arrived when a condo in Seattle hung out a gigantic banner that said “Walk Score 100.” “People react really negatively to phrases like ‘density,’ ” he says, “but they react really positively to phrases like ‘walkability.’ ”Walk Score’s popularity may be a sign that walking is making a comeback, fueled by both rising gas prices and widening waistlines. …Another study posits that if every American spent 30 minutes a day walking or cycling instead of driving, we would collectively cut carbon emissions by 64 million tons and shed more than three billion pounds of excess flab.

It’s interesting to go back and look at a remarkably prescient quote from Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute in our post about Walk Score from August:

Sightline’s director Alan Durning considers the impact Walk Score could have on the real estate industry, as great numbers of people are looking for walkability but find that it’s not something that many real estate marketers consider: “The most far-reaching impact of this tool would be if Realtors began publishing the Walk Scores of their property listings, the way they promote local schools. That step could send ripples through the real estate market, subtly tilting the scales toward compact communities over sprawling ones.”

The second picture above is from the Trace Lofts referenced in the New York Times piece, which you can also find on this Walk Score blog post.