Walkability Scores, Safety, Schools: Are They An Afterthought Or an Essential Requirement When Considering Home Buying

If you’ve looked at even a few home sales listings online, you’ve probably seen the terms “Walkability Score,” seen local schools listed, and local crime and safety statistics. Several websites provide information about how easy it is to walk for needed services and shopping in a neighborhood. Websites usually draw safety information from local police reports, and they use rating sites like GreatSchools.org to show you the quality of local education.

How important this information is to you will depend on your short-term and long term plans. If you don’t have children or plan to send your children to private school, for example, a school rating score probably won’t be a deciding factor in which neighborhood you choose to focus on or which home you ultimately choose to buy. But the walkability score could be an important factor no matter what your family composition or circumstances.

How are walkability scores calculated?

The Walk Score website provides scores to real estate listing services, and also city and county planners. The website measures “walkability” on a scale of 0-100 based on the distance from a location to grocery stores, retail centers, restaurants, and parks. It also measures school “walkability” and can add public transportation scores.

Added “in depth” scores the Walk Score website can calculate include pedestrian friendliness, which includes how dense a local population is, how long blocks are, and how many intersections residents need to cross before reaching destinations.

According to Walk Score, the service has analyzed over 10 million locations in the US, and over 2 billion walking routes.

Walk score rankings include:

  • 90-100 “Walker’s Paradise” – all errands can be accomplished without a car.
  • 70-89 Very Walkable – most errands are good without a car.
  • 50-69 – Somewhat Walkable – some errands are accomplishable without a car.
  • 25-49 – Car-Dependent level one – most errands will need a car.
  • 0-24 – Car-Dependent lowest level – few to no errands can be accomplished without a car.

Depending on your lifestyle and work schedule, a walkable neighborhood could be one of your top criteria when looking for a home to buy. With more people working at home, you may find that driving less and walking more fits your lifestyle perfectly.




Learn Expert Tips On How To Deeply Sanitize Your Home Against The Corona Virus That Has Claimed Many Lives

With coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting so many aspects of life, we’re all spending more time at home. The disease is also affecting the way we think about cleaning and sanitizing. It’s probably fair to say most people want their homes to look clean and smell fresh, but the focus now is on keeping the virus away from ourselves and vulnerable family members. We’ve put together a few tips on how to keep your home clean and as free as possible from infectious viruses.

Do daily cleaning and disinfecting?

First, before you start cleaning, the CDC advises you should wear disposable plastic gloves. Coronavirus can live on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours. This is the reason why experts advise you to focus on faucet taps, doorknobs, and door handles, also known as “high-touch surfaces.”

Clean these surfaces first with soap and water. Then, follow up with disinfectant.

What qualifies as a disinfectant?

Experts want everyone to know that some popular cleaning solutions like vinegar don’t kill coronavirus. Alcohol, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide are all effective chemicals that do kill the virus.

Alcohol can be diluted to 70%, and household bleach should be diluted using the manufacturer’s instructions. Hydrogen peroxide can be used full strength. Alcohol wipes are effective in sanitizing and disinfecting electronics like keyboards and touchscreens.

Do you need to sanitize and clean the fabric?

According to the CDC, if no one in your house is infected with COVID-19, you can wash your clothing and other household fabrics as you normally do. However, if you’ve been out, you should remove your clothing and launder it as soon as possible. The virus is able to survive longer on plastic and stainless steel, so it could be present on buttons and zippers.

The CDC has another warning related to clothing and fabrics used by an infected person: don’t shake them before putting them in the washing machine. Shaking the items could disperse virus particles through the air. Washing clothing in a normal washing machine with detergent will kill the virus.

Other germs in addition to coronavirus can survive on towels and clothing, so laundering them regularly will help prevent infections in general.

Viruses have no way to move on their own. They make people cough so they are spread through the air. Sanitizing surfaces regularly can make your home safe from the coronavirus/COVID-19 disease.




The COVID-19 Outbreak Has Caused Zillow to Pause Its Home Buying Program: Find Out How This Can Have An Impact On Your Home-Buying Process

Online real estate service Zillow has a home buying program in 24 states. It stopped the program March 23, 2020 due to COVID-19. As the pandemic has continued, home buying and selling has been changed in every state, including ones with no “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders

In California, after initial disruption due to COVID-19, by the last week of March, real estate was added to the state’s “essential business operations.” This meant that home sales can continue, but precautions are advisable. A survey conducted by the California Association of Realtors in mid-March found that 54% of its members saw a decline in buyer interest. Some sellers have also backed out of their sales due to COVID-19, but the overwhelming majority were staying in the market.

California real estate pros are working virtually

The California Association of Realtors requested that all of its members should cease open houses shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that all Californians should stay at home starting March 19, 2020.

Before COVID-19, 75% of California’s realtors weren’t offering virtual tours or sales, but now they’re essential. Virtual closings are possible too, and are being used to continue the buying and selling process.

What does this mean for your home buying or selling?

Count on working with real estate professionals using technology. From virtual home tours to conducting the sales and negotiation process online, you can complete a real estate transaction without personal contact. Using virtual signing methods can eliminate the risk of virus contamination.

Interest rates are low and helping buyers and sellers

After the Federal Reserve lowered its interest rate to zero, interest rates increased for about a week. Real estate professionals found that trend hard to explain, but interest rates have adjusted and as of April 1, 2020, were lower than ever for all mortgage products, from 30-year fixed-rate loans to 15-year fixed rate home mortgages and 5/1 ARMs. Refinancing mortgage interest rates are also low, and experts predict that there will be many opportunities to refinance in the coming months.

California’s economic experts predict that with the $2 trillion Federal stimulus bill, the real estate market will not suffer much due to the COVID-19 crisis. The state’s economy is expected to recover quickly once the stimulus takes effect and people are back to work when the crisis is over.