Home sale data suggest that houses near transit are worth more than those that aren't, according to a new report from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR), which used local sales data to find out whether being near  Blue Line light rail transit line has made an impact on housing prices, and whether proximity to the LRT is a factor in the decision-making process.

In a statement on the topic, David Arbit, director of reseach and economics for MAAR, says the value of homes in neighborhoods near Blue Line stations in Minneapolis are higher than homes in neighborhoods that are not. For example, in January 2015 the median price of homes that sold in neighborhoods in close proximity to LRT was $220,000 while the median sale price of houses in those that were not was $194,000.

“The Minneapolis light rail neighborhoods continue to outperform the rest of the city,” said Arbit.

He expects a similar dynamic to play out along the green line route through St. Paul and other planned expansions of the LRT system, including the communities along the planned Southwest LRT line. 

There is likely to be one exception and that's the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis where the price effect is expected to be minimal due to low turnover rates of homes. “I think values in St. Louis Park and Hopkins will perform quite well, similar to values along the Hiawatha line. I’d expect Minnetonka and Eden Prairie values to perform in the middle, somewhere between St. Louis Park/Hopkins and Kenwood,” he said.

Arbit expects property values in LRT-connected neighborhoods along the proposed Blue Line Extension in north Minneapolis, Golden Valley and Crystal to “perform better than their control group and better than the region just as we found on Hiawatha.”

In the report, Met Council Member Gary Cunningham expressed concern about preserving affordable housing in those communities where prices are higher than others. along public transit. The median household income within a half-mile of the planned Green Line extension's 15 stations is $50,580 compared with the metro-wide median of about $80,000. That disparity points to the need for more affordable housing in those communities, said Cunningham. “While many critics claim residents along Southwest corridor are wealthy compared to other residents in the area, the fact is that there are many working-class families in need of affordable housing all along the line. We need to work together with stakeholders to ensure the people who need to access transit can do so.”

That's why a Hennepin County task force has set a goal of making sure that by 2030 one-third of the new housing units expected along Green Line extension are affordable for people with low and moderate incomes to prevent gentrification. 

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