How Greenway Trails Affects The Value Of Properties

“A home with a trail running very close behind it with private trail access across a well-screened yard might be much more desirable as a result.”

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There is a substantial body of literature confirming that natural resource-based parks and open space substantially enhance the value of proximate properties. These findings can appropriately be extrapolated to greenway trails in contexts where they are accompanied by extended tranquil views which account for the increases in proximate property values associated with parks and open space. However, in other cases where the greenway trail consists of a fairly narrow urban corridor, enhanced property value associated with the trail is likely to come from access to the linear trail, rather than from views of open space.

Nine studies were found that addressed the impact of greenway trails on property values. For the most part, the trails were located in relatively narrow corridors. Eight of them used attitude and opinion surveys of homeowners and other stakeholders, rather than changes in actual property values, to reach their conclusions. This surrogate approach is more tenuous than measuring actual changes in property values. Further, only one of the studies was reported in a refereed journal, indicating that the studies may not meet acceptable standards of social science. Nevertheless, they represent the best information currently available on this sometimes controversial issue. In the concluding section of the paper, suggestions are given for designing a research program in this area.

The consistent pattern emerging from the studies which were reviewed, and the diversity of milieus in which they were conducted, enables a reasonable level of confidence to be placed in generalizations drawn from them, even with their limitations. Across the studies there was broad consensus that trails have no negative impact on either the saleability of property (easier or more difficult to sell) or its value. There was a belief among some, typically between 20% and 40% of a sample, that there was a positive impact on saleability and value. However, the dominant prevailing sentiment was that the presence of a trail had a neutral impact on the saleability of value of property.

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