NEWS

Website lets Realtors talk the walk

Date: Apr. 26th, 2009
Contact: Courtney Drake-McDonough Denver Post

An online tool scores neighborhoods on being pedestrian-friendly

Pedestrians have a wide bridge for walking between LoDo and the Little Raven Street area. ( Photos by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post )As an increasing number of homeowners seek neighborhoods within walking distance of the places they visit most, area Realtors are taking advantage of a new online tool that ranks neighborhoods based on their "walkability."

Walk Score, launched in January, measures the walkability of neighborhoods in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom using a proprietary algorithm. The Walk Score system — accessible at walkscore.com — awards points on a scale of 1 to 100, based on the distance of a property to the locations of nearby stores, schools, parks, restaurants and more.

A Walk Score below 50 means the neighborhood requires a car to get around. Areas with scores of 90 or more are considered

The retail shops around Lowell Boulevard and West 32nd Avenue boost Highland's walkability. a "Walkers' Paradise" by Walk Score because people can get around by foot and may get by without owning a car.
Walk Score ranks Denver as No. 11 among the "most walkable" cities in the U.S., with the LoDo, Golden Triangle, Cherry Creek and Capitol Hill neighborhoods ranking 90 or higher.

Metrolist, the metro area's Multiple Listing Service, has developed a partnership with Walk Score, allowing it to show a home's Walk Score information on its public website, recolorado .com. The site, which shows listing information for homes throughout the Front Range, now lists an area's Walk Score alongside traditional information on the property such as price, square footage and lot size.

Metrolist has also integrated the tool into the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, a Realtor-only resource, enabling Realtors to use the Walk Score as search criteria.

"Buyers like tools that help them disseminate the many options that the current housing market offers," said Mark Footer, broker owner of Intero Real Estate Services in Evergreen. "I'm sure Realtors will find creative and innovative ways to use these ratings to market specific neighborhoods or target buyers who are interested in areas with certain walkability ratings."

Keith and Michelle Parker, two of Footer's clients, consulted Walk Score to see how the Evergreen neighborhood they were building a home in fared.

Though the score ultimately didn't factor into their decision on where to build, Keith Parker said he saw definite advantages to using the score.

"(The score) really gives a buyer a sense of the areas surrounding the homes in which they're interested," he said. "It provides an avenue of convenience to the homebuyer and encourages a healthy lifestyle if an owner has the option of walking to the various facilities rather than driving. It also promotes a sense of place in the community."

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A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernible center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street or a public space.

Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently.

Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near one another.

Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.

Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.

Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.