Real estate Web sites with more than 80 million online listings — including Zillow.com, ZipRealty.com and Postlets.com — will provide a "Walk Score" with each property using an application that automatically scores the walkability of each home’s surrounding neighborhood.
In announcing the partnership with real estate Web sites, Seattle-based "civic software" developer Front Seat said the company hopes a property’s Walk Score will rank right up with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home in importance.
"Our vision is for property listings to read: Bedrooms 3, Bathrooms: 2, Walk Score: 84," said Front Seat founder and chairman, Mike Mathieu, in a statement. Front Seat said other sites that will use Walk Score include REcolorado.com and ColoProperty.com. All told, the sites have more than 85 million listings, although many properties are represented on more than one site.
Walk Score looks at the distance to walkable locations near an address, calculates a score for each location, and combines all of the scores into a single measurement. A Walk Score of 25 or less means a car is probably required to run errands, while a Walk Score in the 90 to 100 range indicates that most services are within walking distance and it’s possible to get by without owning a car.
Walk Score launched in 2007, and interest in the application grew last summer when gas prices spiked above $4 a gallon (see story).
While gas prices have plummeted as a global recession takes hold, Front Seat says home-price declines have been less severe in walkable communities. The company is working on a study to determine whether homes in walkable communities are more likely to retain their value and spend fewer days on market than homes in less pedestrian-friendly communities.
Wachovia analyst Jeff Donnelly is studying the effect of Walk Score on the financial performance of apartment buildings, and University of Arizona professor Gary Pivo is is using the Walk Score API (application programming interface) to study whether walkable properties are better investments than less walkable properties, the company said.
The Walk Score API simplifies the process of adding Walk Score to all of a real estate site’s listings, and allows visitors to search properties by Walk Score, the company said. Front Seat also offers a Walk Score real estate tile, which shows a map of nearby amenities and is now used by more than 600 Web sites.
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