Walkable neighborhoods are appealing to many people, but auto-oriented suburban neighborhoods are also appealing to many people. This tends to result in an anecdote-heavy and unproductive debate about what real estate markets are telling us about urban planning. Into the breach step Emily Washington and Eli Douardo who use Walk Score data to create a proper fixed-effects model across all metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas in the United States and conclude on a preliminary basis that a one-point improvement in Walk Score is worth about $850 in extra willingness to pay for a house.
This is probably not the last word on the subject, but it’s a nice line of inquiry. It’s also a kind of cool example of the secondary benefits of certain kind of tech innovation. The Walk Score site is useful on its own terms as a consumer tool, but it’s also a rich source of data for research that may improve future larger-scale political or commercial decisions.