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Investors tuning into the advantages of walkability

Bench near the river in New Farm, Brisbane
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Being able to walk to the river is a big part of New Farm, Brisbane's enviable lifestyle and high property values. Photo: Shutterstock

Investors tuning into the advantages of walkability

Walkability is emerging as a strong indicator for investment success, with the ease of walking to local amenities becoming an increasingly important consideration for property investors.

Walkability is emerging as a strong indicator for investment success, with the ease of walking to local amenities becoming an increasingly important consideration for property investors.

The concept of walkability was formalised as a measurable data point in 2007, when a Seattle-based company established Walk Score, an index that assigns points based on a suburb or a property’s proximity to local amenities such as shops, cafes and restaurants, schools and public transport.

Brisbane-based real estate agent Adam Nobel, the principal of Hugo Alexander Property Group, said a property’s walk score should be examined with the same scrutiny as the best possible interest rate or to make sure the property is free of building defects.

Mr Nobel said both owner-occupiers and investors would be well served to analyse a particular property’s walk score to get an idea of what the potential lifestyle would be living in the home.

“People are not just looking for the perfect home, they are also looking for the perfect community,” Mr Nobel said.

“People want that ‘village’ feel; communities that you do not have to leave because everything you need or want is within walking distance.

“Think about places that have that village feel - where you can wander down the road to grab breakfast, get a haircut, cross the road to pick up groceries as you head to the school to pick up the kids.

“On the way, you stop at a park to play on the swings, before stopping in for a drink at the local coffee shop. Those areas with high walk scores are the ones where you really do not have to leave your local area - there are restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas, buses, health care providers, basically everything you need to live a happy, healthy life in a livable community.

“These are the inner city suburbs that are in demand and typically demand a higher sale price.”

For investors looking for the elusive combination of consistently strong capital growth and high rental returns, a high walk score can provide them with the surety that their property will be desirable to renters, and easy to sell when the time comes to offload it.

“The more walkable an area is, generally speaking, the more liveable the area is and the more sought-after it is,” Mr Nobel told Australian Property Investor Magazine.

“And from an investment point of view, in a lot of high walk score areas, often people are even renting rooms out and people are paying a premium for them, so investors are getting really high rents in those areas.

“If you are an investor, you always want to buy as close to the CBD as you can, within catchment areas of good schools, a train station, shops, supermarkets, etcetera, and those are the sorts of things that make a good walk score.

“There is a link between a great walk score, property values and what makes an area appealing.

“More people are looking for a lifestyle and sharing what makes an area livable helps attract great tenants."

Mr Nobel said in recent years renters had generally become more in tune with the benefits of high walk scores than owner-occupiers, a trend which investors should take notice of. 

“Renters will often make the sacrifice of buying a property because they can’t necessarily afford the lifestyle and the location that they want, to do that they would have to buy further out. 

“So they make a decision to rent instead in the area exactly where they want to live so that they can walk to the gym, walk to cafes, go out to a bar or walk home, walk to the train station or even walk to work. 

“Renters are very clued up on that, lifestyle is huge. 

“For buyers, asking about a walk score is not as frequent, but when you do have a property that is in a fantastic location, close to a high street, we know as agents that that is what’s going to sell the property and that the location is the drawcard, but often people don't’ think of it as technically as ‘what is the walk score’ and so on.”

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