Abroad, a new trend of evaluating neighbourhoods by their ‘walk score’ is being seen among home buyers. The idea behind this is simple, and in fact the very basis of that favourite real estate mantra ‘location, location, location.’ And it has great pertinence for the Pune real estate market, as well.
The investment value of a location is traditionally judged by how many office complexes are coming up in the area. This makes sense – investors can expect demand from people who work in these offices, since living close to work is always a great convenience. It reduces the daily travel time, which means one can spend more time at home with one’s family than on the road.
However, property buyers look for more than proximity to work when they choose a home. In a city like Pune, where traffic congestion is a huge problem, people also aspire to have various conveniences within walkable distance from their homes.
A housing project’s ‘walk score’ is determined by how many shops, clinics/hospitals, parks, playgrounds, restaurants and coffee shops are within walkable distance. In fact, this factor accounts for a much higher preference rating among Pune’s home buyers than the ‘walk-to-work’ option, which is unrealistic in most cases anyway.
The logic is simple, yet profound. A family’s happiness quotient in a housing project does not hinge just on how soon the breadwinner (or, in the case of Pune’s every-increasing dual income families, breadwinners) can get to and from work. In the course of any normal working day, there are still family members back at home who need to keep the household running.
Pune is also a city where a significant number of families still include elders, who have their own social and leisure needs. And even for the younger generation, commuting home from work just to face the traffic again to pick up groceries or enjoy a cup of coffee with friends is annoying and draining.
The convenience of having essential goods, services and places of recreation within walkable distance from home therefore ranks high on most Puneri families’ wish-list. For families are fortunate enough to live in the central locations, in homes purchased at a time when they were still affordable, this is not a problem. But for the majority of today’s generation of home buyers, Pune’s newer locations are the only options.
One of the ways out of this fix is the increasing availability of township properties. Most of the large townships are coming up on the city’s peripheral locations; this means that property prices in them are more affordable. At the same time, they have high ‘walk scores’ because they include retail, leisure, healthcare and even schools.
This explains why township properties in Pune are becoming so popular. However, not all townships are created equal. A good township is planned in a manner which allows all residents to access such outlets and facilities on foot with equal ease. While evaluating a township as the venue for one’s new home, it is therefore essential to study the master plan and establish its actual ‘walk score’.