In the zany world of real estate, things can shift in the blink of an eye. While buyers once gravitated towards sprawling McMansions, the focus is now on smaller footprints, with tiny homes trending more than ever. Similarly, sleepy gated communities purposely built a fair distance from shopping centers and main roads are finding less favor with demographics yearning to have their needs met a little closer to home. This desire for all-inclusive living without the boxed-in feel of a tiny urban apartment has given rise to the walkable community, a place where car-free living is offering the public a new way to live.

A Built-In Sense of Community

In a walkable community, life slows down — literally. Instead of zooming past neighbors at breakneck speed, residents of these communities are exploring their ’hood on foot, meeting and greeting the locals along the way. It’s a lot easier to get to that “borrow a cup of sugar” level of familiarity when you have to physically share a sidewalk and a smile on a regular basis. That connection — tenuous though it may be, at least at first — also tends to make people feel safer and more secure in their homes.

A Bustling Hub

Living in the epicenter of a thriving metropolis comes with a lot of perks, but it also comes with a hefty price tag and inventory is limited. A walkable community with a similarly robust hub evokes that same urban feel but with the additional benefits of single-family homes, yards, more square footage and less crowding overall. Some communities organize homes around an architectural nucleus like a convenient store or a clubhouse; others opt for a park or a pool where people can gather.

On-Site Amenities

Apartment buildings and condo complexes often include a pool and a fitness facility, but walkable communities broaden the meaning of on-site amenities, treating residents to everything from coffee shops to convenient stores to lending libraries. It’s also typical for these communities to use a portion of the comparatively high HOA fees to fund events; attending a farmers’ market, craft fair or holiday festival that’s just a skip away from your home is a very attractive idea indeed.

Inclusive Appeal

While secluded living may have its own appeal, setting up camp far away from the crowd isn’t a feasible option for some demographics. Living in a walkable community can be a godsend for the elderly, the infirm or anyone else for whom lack of motorized transport is a daily challenge. The ability to access resources and make essential purchases without calling a cab is a huge notch in the plus column, not just for non-driving adults but also for parents who dream of the day they can send their teens to the park without having to play chauffeur.

Selling Walkable Communities

Not quite sold? Maybe this will help:

  • On average, those who live in walkable communities are 6-10 pounds lighter than residents of neighborhoods where cars are a necessity.
  • Some 60 percent of people surveyed say they’d pay more to live in a walkable community.
  • More than half of survey participants say they’d settle for a smaller property if they could walk to stores and restaurants instead of driving.

Sometimes expanding your client list requires incorporating new types of properties into your portfolio. Whether you get an exclusive deal with a new build or change how you market homes already in walkable communities, introducing home seekers to a car-alternative lifestyle could eventually mean adding more to your bottom line.