The Importance of “Walkability”
As traffic increases on the freeways and key commute corridors in the Silicon Valley, homebuyers have altered their key preferences when looking for a new home. Now, walkability plays a starring role alongside access to public transportation to the list of ‘wants’ buyers desire in their next residence.
Local Silicon Valley tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple continue to hire employees from national and international metro areas including Boston, Seattle, London, New York City and even San Francisco. These people are accustomed to easy access to urban amenities in their prior locations and desire the same of their new residence.
Walkability is quantified by Redfin subsidiary WalkScore.com. This website uses an algorithm to rank properties on a scale of 1 to 100, with low scores indicating use of a car is needed and high scores, especially those in the 90-100 range, meaning that daily errands do not require a vehicle.
To determine a Walk Score, simply type in a city or specific address. If a city is used, the website will provide a overarching walk score and provide a list of the most walkable boroughs within it’s boundaries. For example, Santa Cruz has a walk score of 63, transit score of 37 and a bike score of 87. Its most walkable neighborhoods include downtown, Eastside and Beach Hill. Palo Alto has a walk score of 58 and transit score of 36. Its most walkable neighborhoods are University South, Evergreen Park and Downtown North. The Walk Score website also provides information on commuting options as well as public transportation, and the viability of cycling or walking to work or surrounding amenities.
Many young, Millennial home purchasers are steering away from owning automobiles and instead, use ride share options like Uber and Lyft, public transportation including buses, tech shuttles, BART and CalTrain. If and when possible, they prefer to walk or bike to work, school and within their neighborhood for leisure activities and errands. As such, it is vital that they are able to easily access coffee shops, banks, markets, restaurants, parks and downtown areas. They are willing to forego square footage, large yards and modern updates, opting instead for proximity.
Many new residential developments are being created specifically with pedestrian transportation at its core. According to the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), walkable, mixed-use communities are popping up across the country. According to the USDN website, “Walkable mixed-use neighborhoods (WMUNs) give residents the opportunity to live, work, shop and dine in a walkable area, one which finds a balance between pedestrians, bicyclists, transit and other motorized vehicles used for business or pleasure. Benefits range from less burdensome home and garden care to strong neighborhood identity to cost savings from avoiding or delaying car ownership.”
Requirements for homeowners varies depending upon their unique situation and personal preferences. But within the past few years, proximity to public transportation and the ability to bike or walk to shops, parks and other services is rising to the top among many in the market to purchase a home in the Silicon Valley. If you are looking to buy a walkable residence in the Silicon Valley or Santa Cruz County, contact The Dawn Thomas Team.