Real Estate Prices in Calgary’s Inner City On The Rise Due To The Walkability Factor

Posted by Alan Zunec on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 2:02pm.

In Calgary, today’s home buyers are looking for convenience and workability. The more pedestrian friendly the area, the more property values are increasing. The Real Estate Investment Network’s latest research shows that the Walk Score of a neighbourhood influences property value.

Looking at real estate in Calgary, that could not be more true. Properties in the inner city are highly sought after by those wanting to do away with long commutes. The suburbs are just not as attractive as they once were. Starting in 2000 and through 2012, the ten neighbourhoods that saw the largest increase in average home values were in Calgary’s inner core and surrounding areas. Collectively they saw home prices increase by some 205 to 260 percent. The Calgary Real Estate Bard is attributing this to access to better transportation and amenities being within walking distance.

Despite all this, Calgary did not have a great Walk Score. It actually is considered the least walk-able city in Canada’s list of the country’s largest metro areas. An American firm, Walk Score looks at how easy it is for residents to live a more pedestrian friendly lifestyle. In Canada, Vancouver took the top spot, with its score of 78. Calgary’s score was 48.

Allyssa Epp, analyst from Walk Score, noted that investors should not only be looking at auto-friendly neighbourhoods. Those areas with easy access to shops, entertainment and jobs are becoming more in demand. As far as Calgary goes, Epp noted that the demand is there, but more work must be done on the accessibility end.

RE/MAX Real Estate Central’s Sano Stante has also noticed the trend, referring to it as gentrification. This is taking mature, city core communities with easy access to amenities and lavishing them with attention, which is exactly what’s happening. Some buyers are buying older properties, knocking them down and then rebuilding, especially on key lots.

Calgary senior analyst Richard Cho, with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is of the same mindset. He notes that more people are relishing the idea of just being able to walk to a restaurant or a store, without the hassle of finding parking. Some are willing to pay premium prices for the convenience.

Epp noted that younger people are more apt to do away with cars, or at least cut down on their usage. That is a switch from the mid 1990s when owning property in a suburb with easy access to commute freeways and such was a sign of success. Today those same successful people are putting their money into properties where they can walk or take public transit to work.

Calgary’s new planning manager, Rollin Stanley, noted that Calgary is already working on improving transportation, which will improve the Walk Score. He also noted that Calgary is pretty much a young city, with a youthful population, so it’s not surprising that the increased demand for car-free inner city housing is there. Stanley notes that meeting that demand will be challenging, but doable.

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