Walk Score, launched in 2007, has built its business on one of the most well-known idioms of real estate: “There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location”. The company’s website attempts to put a numeric value, attained by a proprietary algorithm, on the ‘walkability’ of addresses across the world.
Users of Walk Score include both sides of the buyer / seller relationship of corporate and residential retail. You’d be hard-pressed to find an online property listing that doesn’t mention the addresses’ Walk Score (if it’s worth listing). It’s also been embraced by city planners; proposed public transit solutions, for example, may rely on Walk Score findings to help identify future stops and development sites.
The market for such a tool is vast. A recent report suggested that in the United States, 24% of Americans (that’s 74 million people) reported moving within the last year. End-users could be using Walk Score multiple times to compare potential neighborhoods and addresses within their current or future city. Consumers have also been shown to utilize Walk Score for travel and vacation destinations. Want to know if your hotel is conveniently located near shops and dining? Walk Score can help with that.
On the other side of the equation are the sellers. According to Walk Score’s website, over 20,000 sites use Walk Score’s business-oriented site “Walk Score Professional” including Zillow, ForRent.com, MyNewPlace, along with others. Sellers use this information to plan future sites for commercial and residential properties, and maybe more importantly, to advertise them. As noted on the Walk Score website: “Each point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,000 in a typical metro area”.
Like most attempts to distill complex information into a single numeric value, there can be challenges. In its early days, high walk scores would be generated for addresses that were “as the crow flies” close to all of the amenities that appear to matter, but in reality, that address was cut off by a highway, or body of water. It’s taken years for Walk Score to refine its algorithm and they’re not done. This is a continuing, and necessary process for a company whose sole vision is ”for every property listing to read: Beds: 3 Baths: 2 Walk Score: 84. We want to make it easy for people to evaluate walkability and transportation when choosing where to live”. So far, it seems as if they’re on their way.