Economists: Being Near A New Walmart Actually Increases Home Values

While the sight of a new Walmart store going up always causes some area residents to frown, a new report claims that houses within the immediate area of a new Walmart actually see a slight uptick in value.

The paper, from researchers at the University of Chicago and Brigham Young University, looked at 159 Walmarts in 20 states that opened up between 2000 and 2006. It then compared nearby home prices for 2.5 before and after each store opened.

According to their findings, average prices went up 2-3% on average for homes within half a mile from a store, and 1-2% for those houses between half a mile and a mile from the a Walmart.

“When you see housing prices increase and a change in an environmental amenity, there is a group of people happy with that amenity,” said one of the paper’s authors.

The researchers say they controlled for outside factors like national housing trends that could have led to price increases. However, ABC News reports that the paper does not discuss the changes in overall home prices for each of the 159 communities.

Even the authors admit that, since the paper doesn’t go beyond the 2.5 years following the opening of each new Walmart, that prices could have continued to go up, but may also have decreased.

It’s worth pointing out that the most recent home price data in this study would be from late 2008/early 2009 — and we’ve all seen what has happened to the general level of house prices since then, regardless of how close one’s home is to a Walmart. It would be interesting to see this study repeated a year from now to see if the researchers’ claims hold up.

The Walmart Effect on Home Prices: Economists Say Home Prices Have Increased Near Stores [ABC]