In recent years, there has been growing market demand for pedestrian and transit-oriented development in cities, reflecting changing demographics and preferences. Can investments in pedestrian infrastructure and promotion of pedestrian-oriented design features help cities generate much-needed revenue from property taxes to finance active transportation projects? We investigated this question in an article recently published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research.

We analyzed single-family home sale transactions in Austin, Texas between 2010 and 2012 to assess the impact of walkability in residential property values using a spatial hedonic approach. Our primary measurement of walkability is Street Smart Walk Score (SSWS), which evaluates accessibility to neighborhood amenities based on actual walking routes and distances. Additionally, we also estimated the property value impact of sidewalk density (SWD). We evaluated how the premiums of walkability depend on various socio-demographic factors and local environmental features, such as neighborhood safety and pedestrian collision rate, while controlling for spatial autocorrelation effects (see articlehere).

We found that the highest premiums for walkability are in the most walkable neighborhoods (SSWS greater than 90): a 1 percent increase in walkability yielded a $1,329 increase in property values; a 1 percent increase in sidewalk density generated a $785 increase in property values. Homes in neighborhoods that are at least somewhat walkable (SSWS between 50 and 70) and very walkable (SSWS between 70 and 90) also experienced premium increases, although correspondingly less. In contrast, increasing walkability and sidewalks in car-dependent neighborhoods (SSWS less than 50) did not have any significant impact on property values. Therefore, it is likely that an investment in sidewalks and neighborhood amenities will yield a greater home price increase in a walkable neighborhood than in a car-dependent neighborhood. 

Assessing Benefits of Neighborhood Walkability to Single-Family Property Values:  A Spatial Hedonic Study in Austin, Texas

Wei Li, Kenneth Joh, Chanam Lee, Jun-Hyun Kim, Han Park, Ayoung Woo,

Abstract:  This article investigates the impact of neighborhood walkability, measured by Street Smart Walk Score and sidewalk density, on property values by analyzing the 2010–2012 single-family home sale transactions in Austin, Texas. The Cliff-Ord spatial hedonic model (also known as the General Spatial Model, or SAC) is used to control for spatial autocorrelation effects. Results show that improving walkability through increased access to amenities in car-dependent neighborhoods does not appear to increase property values; adding sidewalks in these neighborhoods leads to a minimal increase in property values. Investments in neighborhood amenities and sidewalks will yield a greater home price increase in a walkable neighborhood than in a car-dependent neighborhood.