Pros of buying a home within walking distance of schools, work, stores include not having to use the car to drive everywhere you want to go, health as walking is one of the best things you can do to improve your health, makes a green footprint on mother earth and increase the endorphins in your brain which decreases sadness and depression!
Some cons of buying a home with walk ability are inclement weather, increases risk of injury especially to elderly, increases risk of dehydration if you live in the southwest or in areas where it is hot in the summer, problems with crime if your neighborhood is not under its own neighborhood watch.
In today's recession, the real estate market was one of the first ones to be affected. They have had to redefine how they sell houses and how they present houses to future homeowners. Homeowners today are looking for more than just a pretty face and updated kitchens and bathrooms. They are not only looking for the best price, although that is definitely in the equation, but they want as much as they can get for their dollar and without thinking of selling out and moving up in a few years. More and more homeowners are looking to stay in a home for a longer amount of time than just a few years ago. There also seem to be less people buying homes as rental properties and of the ones that are out there many have for sale signs on them as well.
Many homeowners are also looking for home with "green" value and or potential. They want homes that are more energy efficient with solar and wind additions adding more value to homes. Additions such as refrigerators, washer and dryers and hot water heaters, things that would have been replaced several years ago are now looked at more carefully as to their energy efficiency rating and are being noted as to the salability of the house itself.
The lot size, the remoteness of the location, the views, the privacy and the outdoor additions such as shed and workplaces no longer are as attractive to new homeowners today. The future of petroleum products and the rise I gas prices will make getting to and from work and amenities such as grocery stores, that much more difficult if you have home in a remote but beautiful spot. There is a saying: "You can't eat pretty" that sums it up quite nicely.
Young people looking to buy a home and elderly couples looking to sell their homes are all looking to move closer to the city or at least to suburbs that have walk ability. In other words, are there stores, libraries, schools all within walking distance? If necessary, could one walk to work itself and save more on gas? During the recession, many families have had to cut back on luxury items such as the toys, specifically boats, four wheelers, motorcycles and even come down to one car. Walking is definitely a way to get around that is not only healthy but also cost effective. Many more people are walking not just for exercise but also to get to and from the places they need to go.
Real Estate agents are seeing an increase in this type of sale on homes and it is becoming one of the pitches they use when attempting to sell a home. In a neighborhood where you see people out walking to school, work, grocery stores and to libraries not only does it make one feel more a part of the community but gives you a sense of peace, a safer feeling to live in such a neighborhood. You may not know all your neighbors as you did while growing up but it is more likely that you will greet fellow walkers day to day and that also adds to the appeal of living inside a city limits or in a suburb that is designed with amenities in mind.
Of course, this is just one thing that homeowners today are looking for in buying a home and there are many more things that need to be considered. For instance, in a larger city the homes may need repairs that would take away from any other good points. Budgets must always be considered. It would not do to buy a home and then have to get a second mortgage a year or so later to make major repairs that were not obvious or found at the beginning. It pays to do your homework of course but being in a neighborhood where your car is not the only transportation you have is definitely a way to go in this tight recession.
Overall, if I were to buy a house I would be more likely to look at different amenities than a pretty curb appeal, a large lot, a nice view or the status symbol the home would provide. I would look further and take a longer view of where I would want to be in thirty years compared to just the present day and time.