Amenities That Improve Home Value
New York Times bestseller, Zillow Talk, the first publication from Zillow’s CEO (Spencer Rascoff) and Chief Economist (Stan Humphries), came out in paperback early this year and reminded us how important amenities are to home value.
With data spanning from 1997 to 2014, the result was clear. Homes within one mile of Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods saw a boost in value from about the time the stores opened up in the area. Two years later, homes were worth twice as much as the median value of homes throughout the U.S. That’s a boost of about 10% to home value.
It’s not just upscale grocery chains that boost home value. The way people search for a new home has completely shifted. They aren’t just looking for a house, they are looking for a lifestyle. So what kind of amenities are making home values skyrocket?
Walkability has two main parts: how easy it is to get around a neighborhood by walking, and the variety of things you can find in the neighborhood within walking distance. Successful walkable neighborhoods have
• Enough people to sustain business and public transit
• Public spaces like a square, main street, or park
• School, shopping, and work that’s close enough to walk to
• Pedestrian design for easy walking access and parking in the back of buildings
• Streets that are friendly to bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transit
Walkable neighborhoods are good for health, the environment, and finances. Studies find that people who live in walkable neighborhoods weigh up to 10 pounds less and are happier than those who live in traditional neighborhoods. Cars are one of the largest of household expenses and walkable neighborhoods allow many to do without, easing demand on the budget.
Studies show that activity in community events drops 10% for every 10 minutes a person spends commuting. Walkable neighborhoods get people out. They naturally meet and get involved. The public spaces in new urban developments encourage interaction within the community.
Participating in community includes meeting people, volunteering, supporting schools, buying local, and engaging with the diverse world around you—all healthy activities for individuals and the broader world. Researchers say that as technology and modern lifestyle detaches us from community, that new urbanization could potentially keep us all mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.
Sustainability is, simply put, the ability to endure. This is an important amenity for homebuyers. A self-sustaining neighborhood keeps everything close to home which allows it to function free from dependence on the outside world. Each member of the community helps support the system.
It is also a very clean way to live. The food, transportation, and economy in these neighborhoods supports an enduring model that protects the environment within the community and throughout the world. Home designs can be an amenity in themselves if they employ the wise use of space and energy efficient appliances and materials.
The emphasis on sustainably produced items in these new urban neighborhoods can be a vehicle for a tremendous amount of change. The focus is on quality rather than quantity helps support environmentally-wise practices and the end of demand on cheap, poorly produced materials.
The homes in these neighborhoods use organic materials that eliminate unnecessary chemicals and protect the health of their residents. There is no more priceless amenity than health. Homeowners demand organic produce and goods for consumption as a part of their lifestyle.
Increasing Your Home’s Value
Many of the amenities that are the most popular today are ones that you don’t have much control over. However, you can add value to your home by making it as efficient and healthy as possible. Here are some ideas:
• Create your own square with outdoor living spaces where you and your friends can gather
• Know where desirable amenities are and advertise that when you sell your house
• Replace old windows with new low-e windows
• Remodel your home with plenty of entertaining spaces (great room, open plan kitchen)
• Get rid of old appliances and replace with low energy-rated models
• Install fans and programmable thermostat for more efficient heating and cooling
• Use products that are made responsibly and with natural materials
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