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Trails increase property values

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Not surprisingly, research has shown that property values are increased when they are located near convenient trail systems. For example in the Greenville, South Carolina area, real estate advertisements will often headline "On the Swamp Rabbit Trail" as the trail is considered such a selling point.

In fact, the Greenville County Rec website advertises real estate for sale along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Bicyclists, runners and families can access the 17.5 mile trail from their homes and safely and pleasantly arrive in the downtown city of Greenville for all of its amenities and activities from Traveler's Rest within a half hour without using a car and fossil fuel.

Olivier Parent and Rainer vom Hofe did their research at the University of Cincinnati (UC) on the effects of the Little Miami Scenic Trail in the Cincinnati metropolitan region on residential property values in Hamilton County, Ohio. They found homebuyers would pay an average $9,000 more for a home located one thousand feet closer to the trail.

In other words, the price of the average home increased by $9 for every foot closer to the trail entrance. In the study, the average home was about 40 years old, had 2,203 square feet, and was priced at $263,517. It focused on 1,762 residences within 10,000 feet of the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

The study was based on the 12-mile southern stretch of the scenic trail. It is multipurpose and used by pedestrians, hikers, skaters, bicycle riders, and equestrians. The researchers reported, "For the ‘New Urbanist,’ multipurpose trails provide the potential for bicycle commuting; help alleviate noise, pollution and congestion, and expand the means for green transportation and a community’s walkability."

A conclusion is that even in tight economies, urban planners and local governments should consider investment in the public amenity of trails as a source of positive return for the community. The researchers used most of a $21,000 grant from the University Research Council at UC to develop a housing characteristics database of 300,000 properties over 10 to 12 years for this and future studies.The next planned study examines the effects of transportation infrastructure and green space locations on residential property prices in Hamilton County.

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