Planes, trains and automobiles

September 3, 2008 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment



When out looking to buy a new house both buyers and agents express feelings of apprehension to homes that are close to major roads or railroad tracks.  When looking at the data for homes that back to or are near a train track, they take longer to sell than others of the same size and interior finish-out further away.  This is real estate 101 … location, location, locomotion.  The same can be said for houses that face or back to a major road.  Most of these homes will be priced below market and will take longer to sell.  But what about the impact of airplanes? 


The potential of living under an airport’s flight path is a possibility in most cities, but do buyers have the same apprehension to living under a flight path as they do to living near train tracks or major thoroughfares?  When looking at property, the time that most people spend at a single house is somewhere in the ballpark of 5 to 30 minutes, and most of that time is spent indoors.  The chance that you would even notice a plane flying overhead is slim.  Of course if you were there just a few minutes and at least 3 planes flew overhead that were close enough to see its windows and that the engines interrupted your conversation you might find it annoying, but would you consider finding out what the flight paths are for that neighborhood or just move forward with you conversation as the plane passed overhead, not thinking that is part of your decision to buy that house.  This is an important point … you should spend a fair amount of time at the house and we recommend more than one visit at different times or days so that you do not miss important traffic or noise patterns that may (or may not) impact your opinion of the house.  Be well-informed.


As an agent, resale is always at the top of my list when looking for a home for my clients and my recommendation is usually to pass on a home that is near a major road or railroad track, unless the house itself is a perfect fit for my client’s needs and wants.  I realize that numerous people live near trains and highways, and talking with the residents in those homes, the answer “you don’t even notice after awhile” is common.  Is it the out of sight / out of mind philosophy that causes most buyers and their agents to not even consider flight paths in relation to a particular property and its list price? 


In Austin with the relocation of our airport, our flight paths changed.  Before with the airport located central, many of Austin’s higher-priced and trendy central neighborhoods (Hyde Park, French Place) had significant air traffic.  But with the change of the airport’s location those neighborhoods are much quieter and have experienced some significant appreciation.


A house with a little or a lot of flight path activity may suit you just fine especially if you purchased it at a nice discount.  But keep in mind that when it comes time to sell, your house will have a handicap that will most likely turn away the majority of buyers which is what keeps these homes on the market longer than average … and the longer on the market, the lower the price. 

Contributor:  the lovely and talented The Nelson Project Buyer Specialist, Rachael Nelson 


Entry filed under: Smart Buyers, Smart Real Estate. Tags: , , .

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