Walkability Score- What is it and why does it matter?

Pioneer Square Pergola

Pioneer Square Pergola

Walkability- it’s a word that some of you may be familiar with already, and one that real estate marketing often uses. But what exactly does it mean?

Used by Walkscore.com, it’s intended definition is to indicate how easily and readily connected a property is to the neighborhood and community around it. For instance, is the nearest grocery store within easy walking distance? Or would it be necessary to drive there?

The higher a property’s Walk Score (or Transit Score or Bike Score) on a scale of 1-100, the more connected the neighborhood is with the property. Take this chart example. But what makes a community walkable?

  • A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
  • People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
  • Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
  • Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
  • Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
  • Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
  • Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.

Now, why is this score important? It’s generally known that those who walk more, whether it’s just a few steps or hundreds of steps a day are generally healthier than those who don’t. By walking more, not only do you get outside, but you also use your car less, and thereby reduce your carbon footprint. If you were able to find a property in a highly walkable area, you might be able to forgo the car altogether!

And here’s some great news: Seattle is rated as one of the most walkable cities in the U.S.! With a Walk Score of 71, a Transit Score of 57, and a Bike Score of 64, Seattle is the 8th most walkable city, with it’s most walkable neighborhoods being Downtown, the Denny Triangle, and Pioneer Square.

How important is the walkability of the neighborhood to you when looking for a new property?

Time to Move? Tips for Decorating Your Rental

When you move into your first apartment, the excitement is absolutely the best feeling in the world! Your initial priority is just getting the basics, but after you’ve stocked the fridge, and  put the furniture that you already have in the correct rooms, you’ll want your living environment to be comfortable and a good representation of you, so how will you decorate your first home? Here are a few tips to guide you along the way. Before you buy any furniture, go online or read some design magazines and figure out what styles you like best, that go along with the furniture you already have. Do you like the look of steel or a dark food finish? Are you going for a modern or vintage look? While you’re looking for furniture, look at rooms that are already decorated to get a better idea of the right style for you. Rental

Have you picked out a color scheme? Not everything has to match, but you don’t want to have a thousand colors in a 500 sf apartment either. If your landlord won’t let you paint, you can still add color to the rooms with an end table, throw pillows,  and add color to the walls with art. It’s important to measure everything in your apartment before you go looking for furniture; you don’t want to buy a couch that looks like it might fit, then come to find it don’t even fit through the doorway. Buy the big pieces of furniture first, then see how much room you have left to fill with a coffee table, floor lamp, and tv stand. If you have the right budget, it might seem like a grand idea to do all of your shopping in one trip, but you’ll save money in the long haul if you shop around, and see what’s available. Garage sales are a great way to support neighbors and find items you might not have, and places like Target and Ikea have inexpensive furniture that is perfect for the first time renter. If you haven’t found the right rental yet, check out these Seattle neighborhood rentals.

Soaring Rental Home Market Could be Good for Renters

Photo credit: www.third-estate.com

Photo credit: www.third-estate.com

More and more rental homes in the surrounding Puget Sound are becoming owned and managed by big investors and hedge fund companies; could this be a step in the right direction towards home-ownership for renters? According to the Seattle Times, a National study suggests yes! A study by Wall Street Analysts suggested that somewhere between $7 billion and $9 billion dollars in distressed family homes have been purchased over the past 5 years, and turned into rental homes by these big name investors. Unlike your average ‘mom and pop’ rental investor, these guys are buying dozens and on occasion hundreds of properties at a time through short sales, foreclosures, etc.

Although single family rental homes have always been a part of the rental scene, the involvement of these large scale companies is really allowing the category to take off. According to a different study,  single family homes account for 52% of all rental units in the country; 27% of all renters nationwide. The study also suggests that the boom in rental homes isn’t just a good opportunity for first time home buyers, but also those affected by the bust. About 60% of rental home tenants have expressed interest in buying in the next 5 years, compared with 44% of apartment and multifamily building renters. The study’s synopsis showed that single family rental homes are going to continue to be a growing part of the housing market, and a safe bet for future home buyers. For more information on the study, visit the Seattle Times.

Are the Days of Large Rent Increases Coming to an End?

The average cost in rentals with 50 units or more dropped slightly at the end of 2012, providing a ray of hope for Seattle renters. Are the days of steep rent increases coming to an end? According to the Seattle Times, landlords may have to start getting used to more vacant apartments and smaller increases in rent, with the influx in construction. Our local market is still very good for Landlords, but it is beginning to flatten out, and the east side of the city, particularly Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond have noticed the biggest change as of recent, with the average rent down 3%. rent

According to Tom Cain, owner of the research firm Apartment Insight Washington, the drop on the Eastside could be due to the toll increases of the 520 bridge. The greater Seattle area is also experiencing the largest increase in construction  in over 20 years, so with inventory up, in theory the cost in rent could flatten out sooner than later. For more information on Seattle Rentals, click here.

What to Look For in a Neighborhood

Finding the right neighborhood to live in can be even more important than house size, or amenities for some folks, and living next to good neighbors is just as important. Generally speaking, most people enjoy living in an area that has a high walk score with accessibility to public transportation, and close proximity to restaurants, shopping, etc. Getting along with your neighbors increases everyone’s happiness, so introducing yourself, and creating that comfortable know your neighbor feel is a great start to developing that lasting relationship. In an effort to help future neighbors get along, Zillow has put together a list of acts of kindness you can do to help the neighborhood, and get on the good side of your neighbors. Here are a great examples: Meet-Neighbors.jpg

1. Rake a neighbor’s leaves

2. Pick up trash that’s blown along the street or gutters.

3. Bake some cookies for your neighbor.

4. Hold the elevator.

5. Clean graffiti

For more examples of simple acts of kindness you can do for your neighborhood, visit Zillow.

Ballard Lofts Design Review Board Meeting

Interested in learning more about the Ballard Lofts project? There will be a design review board meeting for the 72 unit apartment complex proposed for the corner of NW 65th and 24th Ave NW on January 28th at Ballard High School. In recent months, the project has been a  hot topic around the neighborhood, as it will be replacing the long standing Viking Tavern. ballard lofts

Bill Parks, the building developer will be leading the discussion at the meeting beginning at 6:30pm, and present the proposal to the community,  and will also go over priorities presented at the previous meeting. The proposal for the project includes 25 additional residential units, and 3,665 sf of ground floor retail space, as well as parking for 36 vehicles below ground. If you’d like to learn more about the project, or application of the design review process, visit the Department of Planning and Development for updates.

Tips to Avoid Secondhand Smoke in Your Apartment

Even if you yourself pledge to keep your apartment smoke free, sometimes your neighbors don’t follow suit, and its very easy to consume secondhand smoke from a neighboring unit. Most of the newer buildings in and around Seattle are smoke free, but nevertheless, some folks don’t always follow the rules. There are a few courses of action you can take to try to persuade your neighbor not to smoke indoors, or closer than 25 feet from your unit. You can remind your landlord of the economic costs of smoke damage to the unit. cigarette

Cigarette smoke can cause significant damage to the interior walls, and according to Zillow, is the number one cause of home fires in the US. You can also see if your apartment manager is willing to take steps to make your unit airtight, and to seal off those areas where smoke might be coming in. Areas like around light fixtures, small gaps under the doors, and electrical outlets can be sealed with silicone caulking or insulation foam. Every renter is entitled to what is called “peaceful enjoy” of their apartment, and if you’re feeling like this isn’t being fulfilled, its your right to take action.

Queen Anne Rental Available: $4,500

This  5 bed, 3.75 bath stunning remodeled 1930’s Queen Anne home has a spacious living room, and dining room. The 3,700 sf home has hardwood floors throughout, and a cozy fireplace in the living room for entertainment. Features include a huge chef’s kitchen, slab granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. The family room connecting to the kitchen also has beautiful french doors leading out to the deck. The luxurious master suite includes a marble shower and roomy jetted bathtub. The fully finished basement includes a media room, and a guest suite. There is wired sound throughout the home, and as an added bonus, all of the TVs come with the rental! This home is in close proximity to Seattle Pacific University and Interbay Golf Center. For more information on this rental, or other Seattle rentals, visit Ewing & Clark Inc.

Status: For Rent
Bed/Bath: 5/3.75
Price $4,500

Pinehurst Rental Available: $2,495

This sleek contemporary 4 bed, 2.5 bath rental in Pinehurst has an expansive open floor plan, and a delightful cook’s kitchen, overlooking the dining and living room areas. The home features beautiful bamboo flooring, and deep espresso cabinetry, gorgeous granite counter tops, and stainless steel appliances. The upper level has a master suite with a double vanity master bath, and private deck.

The entertainment room has a cozy fireplace, and opens to the Western facing fully fenced backyard, with a bamboo enclosed patio. The carport and long driveway provide ample off street parking. If interested in more information on this rental, or others in the Seattle neighborhood, visit Ewing & Clark Inc.

Status: For Rent
Bed/Bath: 4/2.5
Price: $2,495

Aspira Apartments Sell for $165.7M

The Aspira apartment building Downtown near South Lake Union was bought by T-C Aspira LLC on Thursday November 1 for $165.7 million, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Urban Partners and O’Conner Capital Partners developed the 37 story building, which has 325 units, and 6,500 sf of retail space.

The price per unit of this building after the sale is far beyond anything in the Puget Sound area. Based on the availability,the price per unit has been configured to $509,760 per unit, not including the retail space. For more information on the sale and building, visit the Aspira Apartments website.