This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.
When searching for a home or a place to invest in a rental property, walkability matters.
Increasingly, renters and buyers are opting for homes where they can walk to dinner and to the dry cleaners, whether in a suburban village or the urban core. And studies show they’re willing to pay more for that convenience and the sense of neighborhood that comes along with it.
While the D.C. area ranks high overall in terms of walkability, some neighborhoods really shine when it comes to allowing residents to ditch the car. They offer not only convenience, but a more environmentally friendly lifestyle that appeals to many renters, especially millennials.
Dupont Circle, Chinatown, Downtown and U Street tie for the district’s top walkability score, according to Walkscore.com, the website that rates homes, towns, and neighborhoods from 0 to 100 based on how many amenities are within easy walking distance.
Those neighborhoods are among 17 in the district that the site rates as “walkers’ paradises,” with scores of 90 or above, including Swampoodle, NoMa, Judiciary Square and Near Northeast. Capitol Hill ranks 20th, with a score of 89.
Arlington’s urban villages also earn high marks. Ballston-Virginia Square earns the top spot in Arlington, with a score of 93, followed by North Rosslyn and Courthouse-Clarendon, which both come in at 91. In Alexandria, King Street Metro/Eisenhower Ave., Old Town and Braddock Road Metro areas earn top marks for walkability.
More walkable places have higher rents and home prices, according to a 2012 Brookings Institution report on walkability in the DC metro area. It said rentals in neighborhoods with good walkability averaged over $300 a month more in rent than those in neighborhoods with only fair walkability.
Using its own criteria for rating walkable neighborhoods, the study said Downtown D.C., Courthouse in Arlington, Georgetown, Judiciary Square, Penn Quarter/Chinatown and National Harbor were tops in the region. And when walkable neighborhoods are clustered together, as they are downtown, the premium on real estate values rises even higher, the report said.
The current district neighborhoods fetching top rents bear that out. Most with the best walkability also show up on an Apartmentlist.com list of district neighborhoods with the highest average rent costs in November.
If you own rental property in a walkable neighborhood, be sure to capitalize on it. When listing the home, mention the Walk Score and paint a picture of what life in the neighborhood would be like. Drop the names of the indie coffee shop, grocery, hot restaurants and trendy shops that are just steps away.
When showing the home, offer to walk around with interested tenants, pointing out Metro access, parks and other nearby amenities likely to interest them.
Properties in walkable neighborhoods will likely cost more but also be in high demand and command higher rents, bringing steady investment income that will pay dividends in the long run.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.