The Relative Impacts of Trails and Greenbelts on Home Price

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Place: San Antonio

Overview

This study found that trails and greenbelts in a San Antonio, Texas neighborhood are associated with higher home values, particularly if the trails are incorporated into a greenbelt. This effect is not just for homes immediately adjacent to the trail, but for all homes in the neighborhood.

Relevance

This study would be of interest to those interested in how different types of trails affect property values. The large number of property transactions used in this analysis contribute to the robustness of its findings, but because it uses only a single year of data the results may differ slightly in another year. These findings are consistent with other similar research on the positive effect of trails on property values and the relative magnitude of effect can be asserted with confidence.

Location

This study was conducted in and around Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, Texas. In 2013 the county population was 1.8 million. Most of the properties studied were in suburban areas of the county.

Trail Type

The study included trails, greenbelts (protected open spaces without trails), and trails with greenbelts (“greenways”).  The trails studied were used by walkers, cyclists, and equestrian users.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to assess the difference in price for homes adjacent to different types of trails in residential areas. The analysis was intended to address a concern that trails may negatively affect a neighborhood. The study also evaluated the effect of other neighborhood amenities like tennis courts, playgrounds, and swimming pools on home price. The researchers’ goal was to determine whether trails affect house prices, and also distinguish between trails with and without a greenbelt. This was an academic paper; it is unclear whether there was an outside funder.

Findings

Trails or green space of any type add value to homes, although the largest effect is when the trail is buffered by green space.

All three types of trails were found to increase property values:

  • Trails are associated with a 2 percent house price premium.
  • Greenbelts are associated with a 3 percent house price premium.
  • Greenways (trails with greenbelts) are associated with a 5 percent house price premium.

Other neighborhood amenities were also associated with higher property values:

  • Playgrounds are associated with a 3 percent house price premium.
  • Tennis courts are associated with a 2 percent house price premium.
  • Neighborhood pools are associated with a 2 percent house price premium.

Trails that allow horses are associated with a 1 percent house price premium.

Methods

The authors used a public database of over 10,000 residential sales in Bexar County, Texas from April, 2001 to March, 2002. These data included characteristics about the home, geography within the city, and neighborhood amenities, including whether trails were nearby. These data were inputs into a hedonic price model to estimate the price difference between house sales with and without trails and greenbelts nearby.

Citation

Asabere, P. and F. Huffman. 2009. “The relative impacts of trails and greenbelts on home price.” The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 38(4): 408-419.