Buying a house near a freeway

HappyladiApril 9, 2009

I have a friend that is considering buying a house a block from a 8 lane freeway. You can see the sound barrier from the street in front of the house since the highway is higher up then the house is. You can't hear it inside but it is very noisy in the backyard.

I think it's a mistake, though it is a nice house. This is not her forever house, at some point she will want to sell it. I think it will make resale much harder.

It just went on the market this week and she has just looked at 6 other houses. Of course, it's her choice but she asked my opinion.

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I wouldn't do it because as you said resale will be extremely hard.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 2:41PM
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I would never buy a house that close to a freeway. The noise will get old very soon.

We looked at a very nice house in a nice neighborhood that was about a block away from an 8-lane beltway. Even though the house was almost exactly what we had been looking for in both features and price, we passed on it because of that.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 4:24PM
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I always tell my clients that the deal they think they should get because of its' proximity to the freeway, is the same way buyers will feel when it is time for them to sell.
With inventory so high, i personally would not do it.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 7:42PM
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Interesting! I happen to live in a home that backs a 6 lane highway. It is quite a bit away, has trees, a walking trail / parkland, and a large cliff (we are above the highway). Yes, you can hear the "white noise" from the highway, but it has never been a bother. We are in an upscale neighborhood where the homes are desirable and sell quite well, depending on the design, architechect and what the exterior and interior have to offer. We are in a great town and also have a wonderful school system. If you were to buy similar homes on the other side of town, not near the highway, but in a less convenient location, yes, you would pay more.
We have never had any issues when we purchased the home and we do a lot of entertaining both outside and in. The area is quite sought after as are the homes in the area. If the home is unique, in a desirable area and can be purchased for less than other homes that are not near the highway to make it worth your while, there shouldn't be any issue. It is the same as if you were going to purchase a home on a main street. If the price is right, what is the problem?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 9:11PM
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Some people must be much more tolerant of noise than I am as plenty of people live in homes right on the freeway, busy streets, etc. That would drive me nuts. I wouldn't consider any home in that location - no matter how nice. My first house was on what appeared to be a relatively quiet street but it was a through street and even had an occasional bus go buy. Looked at it on a snowy day in the winter when there weren't too many people out and about, windows were closed, etc. Once summer arrived and I opened the windows it was a whole different situation. Lesson learned - never did that again.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 10:41PM
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Like you said... if the noise doesn't bother you, and you understand that the savings which you get on the home on the buy side will also be there for the next buyers, then go for it.
Just do not give the Realtor a hard time when it comes time to sell, and they prices it accordingly.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 7:38AM
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Besides the noise, you will also get more soot on all of your outdoor surfaces (railings, patio furniture, windows, etc). The wall might block some of that out.
I'm about 4 long urban blocks away and level with an un-walled freeway and we get mostly background noise and very light soot during an east wind (we have prevailing westerlies, thankfully). Occasionally, we hear unmuffled cars and loud motorcycles zooming around or sirens late at night, when things are otherwise quiet.

During the day (when most buyers are looking at houses) the normal neighborhood noise of buzzing lawn mowers and warming up boat engines and humming pool pumps and such cover any freeway noise. But, we are open-doors-and-windows kind of people and haven't run our a/c yet this year (it's only been in the low 80's for Pete's sake), while our next door neighbors almost never open anything up (i.e. their a/c compressor is our major white noise). They probably don't ever hear a thing (but that might be weed-induced delirium - O.T.).

So what am I trying to say? If your friends are outdoors-entertaining, open doors & windows people, they will probably be unhappy for however many years they decide to live in this house. If this house is a great bargain, there might be an obvious reason for that, and will remain when they try to sell. The only reason I'd think about buying it myself, was if it had some very unique factor - view, water, exclusive neighborhood or the best schools in the county that everyone wants into, along those lines. Note: price is not "unique" if it's going to make you miserable or adjust your lifestyle considerably.
I wish them luck.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 12:10PM
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I too would pass on a home near a freeway/highway. I consider that a bad location area. I could not stand the noise. We like to be outside as much as possible. No matter how much the sellers came down in price, I still wouldn't purchase the house. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 12:59PM
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I wouldn't buy it. When we first moved to the area we've lived in for 15 years, we needed a 3 bedroom apartment temporarily until we figured out where we wanted to buy. One complex was offering great deals on certain units. There wasn't many 3 bedroom apartment choices so We viewed one, liked it, and since it was a great deal we snatched it up. The balcony in the back faced the freeway. We didnt give it a second thought at the time since we couldnt hear anything inside. Once we moved in and wanted to use that balcony I soon learned why they had that unit reduced so much! I used to want to sit out there with my coffee and chit chat on the phone. People knew who was calling as soon as they picked up, without me having said a word based on the background noise. I can't begin to tell you how annoying it was.

We just recently sold and had been looking at properties to buy and I saw an AWESOME home online, we went to see it and we loved pretty much everything about (inside) it was brand new, in an upscale area of homes with peek a boo views of the river, but it was also built just off the freeway on one side and railroad tracks on the other. As much as I loved it there was NO WAY I would have bought it. Just standing out back we heard the constant swoosh swoosh of passing cars and then the noise and rattle of the passing train. We knew we wanted to be able to entertain outside, and that I wanted a calm tranquil setting. ..And after just spending 8 months on the market I automatically thought of resale. Our realtor told me we would be eliminating about 85% of buyers if we wanted to resell in that location.

The house, and all others in that 8 house developement are still unsold today, But's it's just been a few months on the market, in lousy conditions so who knows how much is the location.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 1:38PM
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We lived in a subdivision that was near a freeway. I could hear traffic in the distance but it was not loud. It never bothered me, in fact, when we moved to a larger house in a rural area the silence was hard to get used to.

When our DD and DSIL were buying a house in Denver their friend and real estate agent cautioned them about buying near a freeway because of the possible resale problem.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 8:29PM
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We're near a freeway and although we are many blocks away, I can still hear the freeway noise at night. One caution about 1 block away is that in my neighborhood, the street that is 1 block off the freeway had a large green area behind it forever. Then developers bought the green area and built a high rise apartment complex with the balconies overhanging the back yard of everyone on the block.

One house on that block was listed for sale at a reduced price so I went to google street view and looked at it. In the street view you could very clearly see the large apartment in the background--the real estate agent skillfully took the outside photo to block that out of the online listing.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 9:22PM
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As I drive along a freeway and see people's back yards, I ask myself, "What were they thinking when they bought those houses?"

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 4:33AM
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She has put an offer in. The seller has countered, she has countered back. I think it's a huge mistake but it's her mistake.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 6:05PM
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I would strongly suggest that your friend visit the home after dark.

Many years ago, we lived for one year in a lovely house within a mile of the CT turnpike.

During the day you really could barely hear the traffic, but at night---oh my, it sounded as though the trucks were in the living room!

I just could not get out of that place soon enough.

Good luck to your friend, as she could make a very serious mistake.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:20PM
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Did she get the house?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 11:56AM
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She hasn't closed yet but it is under contract. The inspection came back very clean and she is closing the end of May.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:36AM
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Appraisers will make downward adjustments to a property that backs to a major road, they can be between 5% -15%.
However, a house backing to a golf course green will get an upward adjustment, although the maintenance crews start at 5:30 in the morning with all their mowers and other equipment and golf ball are zipping all around you, go figure.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 2:29PM
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As I drive along a freeway and see people's back yards, I ask myself, "What were they thinking when they bought those houses?"

Me too! I'm even more dumbfounded when those backyards aren't fenced!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 7:11PM
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I grew up about 300' from I-95, and had rr tracks on the other side of the freeway, and a river with barges at the end of the road, it nevered bothered me. You just get used to the noise, we used to have gatherings on the back deck and it was never an issue.
The only issue was when someone broke down, they would hop the fence and go to the houses looking to use a phone, probably not an issue today with cell phones though.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 4:03PM
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I LOVE living beside the highway. I love the feeling of being alive in a city. I am moving to another house two miles right up the 4 lane highway. I have lived on a corner, on a cow farm, on 4 lane suburban road and here along the 4 lane highway.

I much prefer living with the white noise of the highway to the CREEPY, LONELY, QUIET that makes you feel like if you died - no one would notice. The truth is, you forget there's a highway most of the time, except for the occasional disruptions of the JAKE-BRAKE trucks and motorcycles breaking speed limit laws, and the infrequent car without muffler. These are not unique to the highway, they occur everywhere. The idea that living along a highway somehow makes a home less desirable is bunk. You can talk about less value and fewer buyers all you want. You can site prices and statistics, this was not a factor for us.

The point is there are buyers who do not want white noise and are not aware that you tune-out the sounds. That's no reflection on any particular home. I would not/will not price a home any different, just waiting for the buyer that is impressed with your house. The birds are more annoying than any traffic. Rush hour and the traffic is at a crawl not making any noise. I get upset at the birds at 5:30 AM and the chipmunks chirping at 6:30 am

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 3:33AM
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She has been living in the house for over 5 weeks and is very happy with it. She can't hear the noise from inside the house at all and it doesn't seem to bother her outside.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 1:10PM
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Let's see how she feels when she goes to sell a few years from now. Keep us posted if that happens! lol

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 7:39PM
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Sparksals, that would be my concern, too.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 9:03PM
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I grew up in Queens, NYC close to Kennedy Airport and two blocks from Aqueduct Racetrack. Talk about noise! Our house was on the flight path to the airports. As a kid, I could wave to the passengers on the planes. They would wave back. Gives you an idea how low the jets were coming in to land.

No one gave any thought about it, just the way we lived. When a plane came over, you would stop speaking mid-sentence, and continue as the plane passed.

My mom sold the house 3X the price she paid for it 15 yrs before. It sold 5 days on the market.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 9:57PM
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