Increasing apartment value with proximity to transit

Here’s a real estate platitude for you: location, location, location.

It’s more than just a hackneyed phrase. A home or apartment’s location is essential to how many people will want to live there… and how high the rent is going to be.

Housing value is based off many variables — square footage, amenities, school districts, and so many other factors. Urbanist Richard Layman, breaks it down into what he sees as the six components of housing value:

  1. House value: the value of the physical house itself
  2. House land value: the value of the land the house is built on
  3. Neighborhood place value: the characteristics of the neighborhood itself (charm, public safety, schools, etc.)
  4. Neighborhood location value: how close the neighborhood is to points of interest or downtown areas
  5. Community place value: characteristics of the community (quality of government, community involvement, etc.
  6. Neighborhood mobility value: access to public transportation infrastructure

The last one, neighborhood mobility value, can play an increasingly important role with the development of smart cities and growing public transportation use.

This value can be measured in a few ways, but the most popular are the Walk Score and Transit Score (numbers from 0-100 that quantify a location’s walkability and how well it is served by public transit), which potential renters and homeowners alike take into consideration when searching for a home.

Public transit available in San Francisco
A map showing the public transit available in San Francisco, one of the highest scoring in the U.S., created by Transit Score.

There’s no doubt that the higher a property’s Walk Score/Transit Score, the higher the rent is going to be. According to a study conducted by CEOs for Cities, Walk Scores were shown to be positively and significantly correlated with housing values, where a one-point increase in Walk Score was associated with between a $500 and $3,000 increase in home value.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the highest median one-bedroom apartment rents, according to a 2016 Apartment List report.

The same applies with apartment rents — six of the cities with the 10 highest median 1-bedroom rent also appear on the list of the cities with the top 10 Transit Scores.

Top 10 US Cities for public transit
The top 10 U.S. cities (with populations of more than 300,000) for public transit, according to Redfin’s 2016 ranking.

So what does that mean for leasing agents and property managers trying to set themselves apart from other options in a difficult year? Placing an emphasis on not only the proximity to an abundance of public transit, but also on the availability of real-time arrival information, as an amenity on your site? That’s definitely a start.