Real estate professionals say more home buyers these days are seeking walkable neighborhoods in close proximity to stores and other amenities, more so than neighborhoods with good schools and low crime rates. Walkability has become a top priority due to increased traffic; concerns about future oil prices; and the desire to live in vibrant, bustling communities. The Seattle software company Front Seat launched the Web site Walk Score, which rates neighborhoods based on the number of amenities within walking distance. The site determined that a one-point boost in ranking can push up residential values by as much as $3,000, and the value of amenities within walking distance has been confirmed by other studies. Walkable neighborhoods can be in the urban core as well as in the suburbs, with many suburban developments featuring a town center complete with stores and restaurants. Some experts say topography is a main factor in gauging walking behavior — a factor presently not included in Walk Score’s algorithm. While Walk Score is taking steps to address the absence of topography, it also must contend with the fact that Google Maps often are outdated in terms of store and restaurant locations. | Read More