For those looking for affordable housing, the combination of highly rated schools and the ability to get around without a car may seem out of reach. Not so, writes Eric Scharnhorst for Redfin, a real estate brokerage corporation. Some affordable homes can be found in city neighborhoods and near schools with high ratings, and sometimes they even have an above- average Walk Score.
A top Walk Score means that getting around the neighborhood on foot is safe and simple. The score rises when the area is also attractive. Extra points are tacked on if walking to schools, parks, and public spaces can also be accomplished.
The catch is that to find affordable housing in such prime neighborhoods, buyers should search areas with a good number of expensive homes in them as well. But areas with a broad spectrum of home prices can be found in only 13% of major cities in the US.
The Redfin organization reviewed the 20 cities with the most people served by its company to identify communities with these three conditions. An area with diverse incomes, which correlates to a variety of home prices, gives families a better chance of getting ahead. Research by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that neighborhoods play a dramatic role in whether or not families move up the economic ladder.
Redfin's analysis of 170 equally mixed and affordable communities, according to their school ratings and their Walk Scores, found only 24, or 14%, met these standards. Boston had several areas that met the criteria in Redfin's last report, but this time the city didn't make the list because of its schools' below-average scores.
The Redfin Corporation is asking lawmakers to relax restrictions on building in certain cities so that more integrated housing can be developed that will allow more people to live in the kind of neighborhoods they want.
The Associated Press reports that many neighborhoods that are affordably priced, walkable, and near good schools are located in Washington and Seattle, as revealed by Redfin. The data show that there is a gap between the communities where people say they want to live and the homes that are available to them in those neighborhoods.
"Cities have not kept up with consumer tastes," said Nela Richardson, Redfin's chief economist.
High-quality schools have been a priority for homeowners for decades. But an added condition has been uncovered by a survey from the National Association of Realtors and the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University — that millennials disproportionately favor compared to past generations.
Denver has two of these prime neighborhoods, says Ben Miller of the Denver Business Journal, referring to the Redfin list. Platte Park ranked 14th on the list by touting a Walk Score of 75 and a GreatSchools rating of 6.3. Denver's West Highland community ranked at the 21st spot with a Walk Score of 74 and a GreatSchools rating of 5.1.
Although Chicago did get a place on the list for the availability of affordable homes near high-quality schools, the pickings in the city are slim.
In Schorsch Village, a family with a median income of $54,918 could afford to buy a $322,089 home. The Fulton River District made it onto the list because it has more affordable homes incorporated into neighborhoods with million dollar homes.
"The taste of the American family is shifting from sprawling far-out McMansions to close-in homes near urban amenities," said Redfin economist Nela Richardson.
The old adage that people should buy the cheapest house on the block is making a comeback, writes Gail MarksJarvis of the Chicago Tribune.
The top spot on the Redfin list went to the Seattle University District, which had a Walk Score of 91 and school ranking of 7.8.