Would you Buy House Next to a Water Easement/Detention Pond?

SnowFlake888October 17, 2011

I have a bit of a strange question. My husband and I are looking to buy our very first home! We have found a great neighborhood with a nice, 2 story house on a private cul-de-sac. The only issue is that the house is right next to a huge detention pond. The pond is dry and used for storm water run-off. There usually won't be standing water in the pond, but after thunderstorms, water could stay in the pond for a few days until it drains completely. My question is this: Would a large detention pond/water easement be bad for re-sale value? Would this deter people from buying this home? Buyers with kids? The advantage is that there are no neighbors on one side of the house, but will the pond be an "eye-sore"? Please give me your two cents on this!!! ALL comments will be much appreciated. Thanks!

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My concern about houses next to retention ponds is Mosquitos. Is it likely that there will be water in the pond (even a little bit) when it is mosquito season. Also, ask yourself if they can fill up and flood. Where will the water go. I have seen this same situation result in a flooded basement.

I would consider the house, but I would expect the price to be lower than if the drainage pond was not there

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 5:50PM
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I would never buy a house with a storm water management (SWM) pond right next door. Even if it was situated where I would have to look at it from my property, I still wouldn't want it. I think they are huge eyesores. They are mosquito breeding grounds, along with rodents and snakes, plus they seem to be rarely maintained in older subdivisions. Ugly weeds and scrub brush will grow all over the place, and it seems like all the neighborhood litter ends up there too.

You don't have much danger of your property flooding because of the pond. Ponds are designed to contain what is known as a "100 year storm". Since this magnitude of a storm is a rarity, ponds should never come close to filling up.

On the "plus side" - you could also see deer, foxes and a wide variety of birds. Plus like you said, you have no neighbors there.

I have seen subdivisions where the ponds remain full of water and are kept up nicely (kind of park-like), which attracts geese and ducks. This variety of SWM pond is a whole lot more attractive, and can possibly increase your value - for the right person. I still would not like to live right next to that because of all the noise and because of the poop and feathers all over the place. I am a nature lover and it is really nice to see a flock of geese fly over and honk - but I do not want a couple hundred of them honking right next door.

Just because I would never buy a house like that doesn't mean nobody else will, and it doesnt mean its less valuable. Its less valuable to me, but thats just me. Ultimately it is up to you to decide if you would enjoy living there.

Good luck

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 6:42PM
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I'd buy it, but as a gardener, I'd sneak over & do all kinds of plantings so it would be attractive & wildlife-friendly. I don't understand how big this one is - can you use larvicides if the water level is low, or is it much too big for that? By the way, I have a cabin on a 15-hectare wetland, so I don't have a problem with mosquitoes, just use Deet during the worst times.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 7:12PM
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Who will pay when the pond overflows and causes you damage?

Probably no one.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 7:32PM
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SWM ponds are at lower elevations than the surrounding properties. If storm water drainage from the surrounding properties makes its way to the pond (by gravity)- that tells you the pond is much lower. The chances of a SWM pond overflowing and then flooding any surrounding property is extremely slim. As already stated, they are designed to hold a "100 year storm". They have charts that show historical storm patterns, average rainfall, and it is also dependant on what sort of soil types you have and how good the soil is at absorbing water. As long as the pond was designed to those standards, and the city/county engineer verified that the contractor actually built it to those standards, you have nothing to worry about as far as flooding goes.

Who pays if it floods? YOUR insurance pays, providing you have flood insurance to begin with. That would hold true even if the pond did overflow due to poor design. The pond's owners (the HOA) wouldn't pay out - they would hide behind "it was an act of God".

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 11:24PM
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I think it all depends on how well done it is. We live in an older 1070s neighborhood in a semi-rural area. Around 2005, the sprawl moved in. The typical neighborhood is slab homes and townhouses, 3/2, tiny lots, some with no or single garages, geared toward first-time homebuyers or empty-nesters, with prices from 89K (really!) to $175K. The developers squeezed every last house they could into the plats.

One that I drive by regularly has the retention pond running as a long strip behind two strips of houses/townhouses. It has a chain link fence around it. it is weedy and scruffy inside. It is hideous. Another tried to work the ponds into the overall design, running them in a quasi-natural shape, but again in a narrow strip behind the houses. The neighborhood is called "Ammersee Lakes". DH and I call it "Ammersee Ditches". The latter one was also caught in the real estate meltdown, so I don't know that the work was ever completed as intended.

All that to say that it depends on the care put into it, which I think depends on the intended market for the homes in the neighborhood. The tonier the market, the better the job they will have done with the ponds and with any common area spaces.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 11:21AM
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We have two...township owned...one on either side at the end of our development. They appear to have been very well designed in their function...even during the height of Hurricane Floyd in '99 when the homes were being built they did not overflow. In addition, while the rest of the area has a lot of flooding in severe rains., we have had none. They are very well maintained by the township and are very attractively landscaped. They are dry unless there is a very heavy rain...and only one fills to some degree as the other drains into it...and it empties quickly.

That said..we do not live next to them...and given all of the bizarre climate change we have had, as well as the extraordinary amount of record breaking rainfall in Central NJ this summer, IMO, chances are some day they will overflow..and the homes next to them will be adversely affected.

That said, I would not want to take that chance...especially as their proper function is design dependent...and there is no way to know how well they work until tested.
We were lucky...but still, there is no way to know how well they will function as time goes on...and more building creates more impervious coverage.

That said, I vote no on detention basins as neighbors.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 2:45PM
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"The chances of a SWM pond overflowing and then flooding any surrounding property is extremely slim."

That depends on the local terrain.

Two I pass on the way to work every day are only about 5 feet below the houses nearby, and have filled completely and overflowed back towards the houses (they were also flowing over the road about 6 inches deep at that point.

They often have a few inches of water in them since mud and debris has built up around the normal drain that is used to limit the outflow to avoid creek flooding downstream.

Between the flooding possibility and the mosquito breeding ground they create (to speak nothing of the non-migratory Canadian geese they attract) I would not purchase close to one.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 3:54PM
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We had a 100 yr storm in 2010.

That was followed by a 50 yr storm in 2011.

Rare - maybe.
Real - absolutely, and basements reflect the reality.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 6:26AM
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