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How Modern Transit and Highways Affect Property Values

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What happens to our home value when the busy city life and modern roadways invade? Image Source: Zack Devito

BEEP! BEEP! Do you hear that everyday? Whether you are hurrying along your daily commute, or whether you live adjacent to a busy highway— the stress and noise of modern transit seem unavoidable.

While new highways are great for commuters, they are not so great for those whose homes are impacted by traffic and noise pollution.

We already know that highways can impact the value of your property, as well as other neighboring communities. The resulting noise, smog, and traffic that comes with a highway obviously has a major impact on property value and quality of life.

Although, highways are not all bad news, new transit ways can actually increase property values and improve traffic flow.

So, let’s look a little further into some of the ways modern roadways are affecting our way of life. After all, modern transit is only growing more popular as population skyrockets and more people squeeze into busy cities.

While the views may be great, living in the city brings with it traffic and highway noise/pollution. Image Source: JT Living

As was mentioned above, noise from a busy highway has a seriously negative impact on property value. This would seem especially true for individuals whose property is closer to the highway. However, the opposite may be the case— statistical models from one transit rail study  showed that with every meter a house was located to a particular railway station, property values went up by $2.29. While this doesn’t seem like much, the study showed that houses immediately adjacent to the stations sold for 38% more.

So is closer always better?  Is there some truth to the classic economic theory—when a highway is initially built, large parcels of land that previously had poor accessibility – or none at all – are suddenly undervalued?   Yes, it seems intuitive that if you go from limited transit access to immediate proximity of modern transit, then your home value will increase.

However, let’s say a highway was not present during the time your home was purchased or built—wouldn’t the introduction of a busy highway decrease your property value? Well, the answer is— it depends. This study on property values and highway expansions shows that home values depend on numerous factors such as proximity, noise, emissions, vibrations etc… Simply put, it’s complicated.

You may be surprised to discover that closer proximity to transit stations may drastically increase your property value. Image Source: CSS Architecture

Highways can also create what is known as a land-locked situation. This situation can also decrease the value of a particular property. This is mostly due to its lack of appeal for buyers when they have to find an alternate route into the property.

A land-locked property occurs when the Department of Transportation (DOT) turns a ‘back road’ into a highway. Most often, this happens in rural areas where DOT decides to put a highway through a current farm or farm road. After all, expansion is the name of the game, right? And a new highway usually means the future encroachment of big cities into the suburbs.

When DOT does this, individuals may not be able to access their properties as they once had. They may have to go through neighbors’ properties or find new routes.

When a property cannot be easily accessed by the owner, it decreases the property value—nobody wants to invest money into a property they cannot get to without a hassle. On the flip side, access to a new highway may drastically increase the value of surrounding homes. It’s all about perspective.

What happens when the the big city encroaches on your quiet home? Landlocked issues and city encroachment are a source of frustration to many homeowners. Image Source: Eladgonen

Obviously, a highway brings more traffic to the area. While this is a positive impact from a business perspective, it can be a  negative impact in a residential community. Areas that have been looked at as being good family neighborhoods may not hold this appeal once a highway is put in.

Highways bring a lot of vehicles driving at various speeds. Homeowners, particularly those with children, will find this unappealing when purchasing a home. If a home is already built in a area and then a highway comes in, it becomes less appealing, for safety reasons.

Parents want to know that their kids can play in the yard without having to worry about a 6-car pile up, or drunk drivers, or vehicles traveling at high rates of speed. Not to mention, the new accessibility of your home to devious people.  All of these factors will make home values decline and make it hard to sell

Try to protect your assets by investigating future city plans before buying. If it is already too late and the highway has been constructed, then be creative with exterior home designs such as fences, gated courtyards, water falls to drown out noise, security and green walls that beautify and act as sound barriers.

Drown out the sounds of the highway and city-life with a stone barrier wall and water fall. Image Source: Lombardi Design

As mentioned above, not all properties are negatively impacted by highways. In fact, there are several situations where highways can actually increase property value. This is particularly true for commercial areas.

Commercial properties that have limited access can benefit from the addition of a highway. More people passing through, equals more business.

Of course, this increased exposure increases the profits of the business and the property value.  You do, however, want to make sure that when the highway is put in that your business can be easily and safely accessed. You may want to talk with city planners to discuss whether your business needs a traffic light, as safety and available parking can make the difference between a person dropping in, or driving on by.

Not all properties are negatively impacted by highways. In fact, there are several situations where highways can actually increase property value. Image Source: RNW Construction

As you can see, there are numerous ups and downs to having a property near a major highway. There are so many factors to consider, and whether your home value goes up or down truly depends on accessibility, noise, location, safety and emissions etc…

When purchasing a new home it is important to take into consideration the transit ways and highways around the property. If there is plans for a major highway, it could cause some noise issues, causing your property value to decrease. On the other hand if there are plans for a new transit station that makes the big-city commute more accessible, you could watch your property values soar!

Are you living near a busy highway? If so, do you love it or hate it?

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