How public transit increases multifamily property value

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 3/8/18 10:47 AM

If you're in the real estate market in 2018, then you know how powerful location is. Not just location to nearby attractions (although those are still valuable), but location to public transit.

And why? Well, to start, public transit usually leads to more housing and shopping developments, so those nearby businesses like restaurants and stores will follow. The key to a neighborhood's success is making sure it's easily accessible to everyone. Sure, it can be great to have a super-hip coffee place down the street, but eventually you're going to need to leave.

Just how much is public transit worth?

Well, it can be difficult to measure. There are many factors that go into how much it costs to rent an apartment. One is amenities, of course, from in-lobby dry cleaning services to high-end boutique spin rooms. Another is the actual apartments themselves, the square footage, the view. But a greater and greater factor is the proximity to public transit.

The Shay Apartments at Dusk
The Shay, a luxury apartment in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, is within minutes of Metro stations, bus stops, and bikeshare and has a MobilityScore of 89. It's extremely walkable and proximate to transit, and its rents reflect this.

Several studies have demonstrated its importance over the years, as far back as 2008. A study from the Center for Transit Oriented Development found that for each additional point of improvement in WalkScore, a typical home gained between $700 and $3000 in value. The value for houses depends on things WalkScore measures — access to parks, good schools, etc. Apartments being rented, on the other hand, depend much more on transit and how easy it is to get around the city, which we measure with our MobilityScore algorithm.

That being said, the definition of mobillity is changing rapidly; public transit is not the only way of measuring accessibility any longer. The higher a property's MobilityScore, then, the higher the rent will be. According to the same CTOD study, the change in favor of more compact urban housing with access to retail, services, and transit is only reinforced by a demographic shift toward smaller households. The trends are here to stay.

What can property managers do with this information?

If you're a property manager at a building with an amazing MobilityScore (if you aren't sure, you can check yours here!), then the best thing to do is show it off. Make sure potential residents realize how well-situated your building really is — people are willing to pay a premium for proximity to transit, an amenity in its own right.

If your building's MobilityScore isn't so hot, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. There's a lot you can still do to make up the difference for your residents: Add a shuttle to the nearest rail station, have a Zipcar on premesis, install a TransitScreen to make sure it's all easy to understand and access. As long as you make sure there's a connection between residents and where they want to go, you'll be able to attract and retain them in no time.

Topics: Real Estate, MobilityScore