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VOL. 126 | NO. 153 | Monday, August 8, 2011

On the Right Path

Green spaces not enough to spark depressed housing market – yet

MICHAEL WADDELL

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Greenlines, greenbelts and greenways are already under way and are expected to grow and converge across the city in the years to come.

Riders pass homes along the Shelby Farms Greenline Trail at High Point Terrace. Property values near the trail so far haven’t been affected but that could change in the future.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

And while property owners should see increasing values as the Shelby Farms Greenline and other green assets become community fixtures and expand throughout the area, so far the depressed housing market is keeping all property values – no matter their location – in check.

Although home sales increased in July, it’s difficult to tell if proximity to the greenline – which runs 6.5 miles from Midtown to Shelby Farms Park – or other trails like the greenways in Germantown and Collierville are having a measurable positive impact on resale values.

But brokers are using the popular trail as a selling point for their listings.

“Places to take walks” ranks highest (77 percent) among the most important community characteristics people consider when deciding where to live, according to a 2011 Community Preference survey conducted for the National Association of Realtors.

“I use it as a marketing tool because I think the greenline is great for recreation and commuting,” said Memphis broker Joe Spake of incity Realty, who touts the greenline for his Midtown home listings.

Spake points out another result of people using the greenline is that potential homebuyers will become exposed to new parts of the city, maybe in areas they would not have considered buying a home previously.

“Looking down the road five or 10 years, if Memphis continues to support it, the greenline will help contribute to a much better quality of life and a better sense of community across the city,” Spake said.

Hank Hogue, branch manager at Crye-Leike’s Cordova office, agreed it’s still a bit early to gauge the greenline’s effect on the local housing market because it has continued to struggle since the trail’s opening last October.

Still, he said it is a positive for the city’s real estate.

“Is the greenline going to increase the desirability of homes closest to it? Probably. I think it will enhance the overall areas near to it,” Hogue said. “But I don’t think there’s been a measurable effect so far with pricing. The only thing that will change the housing situation right now is an improving unemployment rate.”

Hogue said homes in the area sitting close to the greenline generally range from $70,000 to the mid-$100,000s.

The greenline is just one component of the city’s existing or future “greenprint.” It will eventually cross the Wolf River Greenway, a network of trails and interactive nature centers paralleling the Wolf River through Memphis from the Mississippi River to Germantown, Collierville and Fayette County.

A rider passes homes along the Shelby Farms Greenline trail near the High Point Terrace neighborhood.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

It will link neighborhoods as disparate as Mud Island and Frayser, New Chicago and River Oaks, allowing residents to walk, jog, bike or skate across the city via a 10-foot-wide pathway. The greenway also will intersect with the Mississippi River Greenbelt and the greenline, bringing the benefits – both tangible and intangible – to communities across Memphis.

Greater Memphis Greenline Inc., a nonprofit “devoted to promoting an integrated multi-use trail system throughout Memphis and Shelby County,” according to its website, touts a trend of higher property values between one-fourth and one-half mile on both sides of trail systems/greenlines in other cities.

Cities like Boulder, Colo., experienced heightened property values near their greenline of more than 30 percent higher than those located only half a mile away.

Whether something similar happens here remains to be seen, but if it does provide a similar bump in housing values it has the potential to affect homes of all sizes and prices.

For example, the Shelby Farms Greenline and Wolf River Greenway will someday connect to the two-mile Germantown Greenway in Wolf River Nature Park and then to Collierville’s greenbelt system.

The greenway’s extension to Collierville is years away, but that suburb’s extensive “greenbelt” system has already proven to be very popular with homeowners and homebuyers since its development began in 1994.

“I haven’t seen any plans for the greenline out here yet, but there is a lot of excitement about it throughout the city. It’s a great way for families to spend time together outdoors,” said John Stamps, who is on the Collierville Planning Commission, serves as Memphis Area Association of Realtors vice preisdent and is a principal broker at Prudential Collins-Maury. “Here in Collierville, our greenbelt system is really welcomed by homeowners. People really like it. Overall for this market, buyers are looking for greener communities with more interaction and walking.”

Collierville was the county’s top area in home sales last month with 94 sales averaging $281,169 and totaling $26.4 million.

The city currently features more than 18 miles of winding pathways and trails, and its master plan designates space for the construction of more than 60 miles of trails and sidewalks connecting parks, schools, neighborhoods and commercial districts.

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Blog News, Training & Events
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 98 238 15,862
MORTGAGES 122 284 18,332
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 13 34 2,439
BUILDING PERMITS 137 452 32,966
BANKRUPTCIES 62 178 10,191
BUSINESS LICENSES 23 73 5,251
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 28 92 6,240
MARRIAGE LICENSES 13 63 3,476

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