Whether you are investing in a commercial property or buying a house, it pays to know what creates value in the city where you are buying.  
When you go to a new city, say because it is booming and you want to get in on the profits or you want to live there, you need to be as familiar as a local with the influences that create value in real estate. This article provides a way to get to know the city in which you will buy property.

This material and data is for informational purposes only and is not intended to contain and does not contain the information necessary to make investment or buying decisions. Do not rely on the information within this article as a basis for investment decisions.

What Changes Value[1] – The Checklist

Each quality below increases the value of a property to the extent it is present.

_Urban Greenscape




_Environmental Sensitivity


­_Considers Human Needs



_Public and Private Places

_Adaptability and Versatility

_Human Scale

_Qualities of Edges

_Connectivity and Richness



  1. Variety – means diversity of experience in the way space and features are used. The more variety of experiences based on the way space and features are used the more valuable it is.
  2. Public and Private Spaces – It is important that private spaces and utility areas are not next to public spaces. They have incompatibilities that are difficult to resolve. For example, power stations should not be in residential areas.
  3. Adaptability and versatility – A good place allows many uses, activities and purposes over the daily and weekly cycle, seasonal patterns as well as other changes faced by the city.
  4. Human scale and richness – A good urban place affirms That it was made for human beings’ intellect, emotion, senses and spirit because it helps us to relate to, interpret and appreciate the built environment.
  5. Qualities of edges – How well a public space works will be largely determined by the arrangement of, and around, its edges. A dynamic vibrant and interesting space is likely to have active edges. Passive edges are likely to produce a space which is lacking in life as well as a sense of safety. Active edges (sidewalk cafes, museums, shops) feed into the center; in turn, a lively scene at the heart of a square creates a buzz that draws more people to the area, generating more activity for edge uses. It’s symbiotic!
  6. Connectivity – Public spaces that offer convenient connections between them increase the choices that people enjoy.
  7. Sustainability – Beyond energy and greenhouse gasses, urban sustainability also includes economic, social, cultural and ecological concerns.
  8. Urban greenscape – Refers to green that is integrated into the city, not just an occasional park or The greenscape of the city is an integral part of the urban fabric and a continuous medium rather than local or site related plantscape enhancement.
  9. Safety – A good place will be perceived as safe and actually be safe. The physical arrangement of a place can greatly contribute to personal safety.
  10. Space and space making – People respond to defined spaces. A good place will have well contained and interesting spaces in which people feel comfortable.
  11. Access – Good places will be accessible to all members of the community.
  12. Community enhancement –A good urban place enhances the sense of the community, social interaction and strengthens the self-image and identity of the people who use it. While acknowledging differences, it will focus on the shared and the common.
  13. Comprehendibility – We can take full advantage of a place only if we understand it, interpret it and it has meaning for use. Its layout must be such that we can construct clear mental maps of it by having some clear points of reference.
  14. Environmental sensitivity – A good urban place will be sensitive to the environment and the setting, be it natural or made by humans.
  15. Human needs – A good place will consider and provide for all human needs.

Conclusion – As you drive around the new city that you are assessing, keep the above checklist with you and notice whether or not these qualities are present. Give each city feature its own page and checkoff as many qualities as you can recognize in the city feature that you are viewing. Start at the prospective property and go in a circle around it. Use a new sheet for each feature.

Qualities Grid

CITY FEATURE______________________________________DATE___________

         Scale None Little Some Dispersed Adequate Much Extensive
Adaptability and
Human Scale
Qualities of Edges
Connectivity and
Urban Greenscape
Environmental Sensitivity
Considers Human Needs
*You want a minimum score of 42. Maximum is 90.



[1][1] Courtesy of Lily Chan B.App. Sc(Built Env), B.Arch, RAIA, Coordinator Principal Architect, Planning & Environment
City of Gold Coast


Featured image at top of post, “Colorful Flat City Buildings” by superawesomevectors, used with permissions granted under Creative Commons Attribution 3.o license.