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Jonathan Mor…, Real Estate Pro in San Diego, CA

Having a hard time selling a listing due to road noise, via agent feedback-interior of home excellent, so many showings, no offers! Any ideas?

Asked by Jonathan Morris, San Diego, CA Tue Oct 25, 2011

Road Noise

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Annette Lawrence’s answer
Don provided a very thorough overview of what to consider. (TU) It is my hope you choose what is best for the homeowner (their timeline may be the most significant factor) rather than what is most expedient for the listing agent.

If this home possesses 'one of a kind' attributes (noise is not an attribute) that adds to quality of life or even tangible value, your how owner may be better served by waiting for 'the' buyer. I've sold noise homes to folks who never go outside and to those whose outside venture was a plunge in the pool and back inside they went. Some didn't even hear the background noise because of the environment they just left.

The level of the noise is a significant factor. If one can continue a conversation the problem is minor. If however, one must signal a 'time-out' for the train to pass, that would not be minor.

Please, as a last resort, sacrifice the homeowners equity and lower the price.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 26, 2011
Chris is exactly right. It's a marketing issue.

A few suggestions:

Be totally upfront in the MLS listing and elsewhere regarding the road noise. People who are bothered by the noise won't buy, regardless of how low you price the property. Just like many parents of small children won't buy a house with a swimming pool, regardless of the price. Or some people won't buy a house close to high power lines. Those aren't pricing issues. Those are (real or perceived) safety issues.

So, who's going to buy? Chris is partly right: Someone who isn't bothered by the noise. Someone with a hearing disability. Maybe an older person/couple with a hearing loss. Maybe someone who's lived with a lot of noise before, such as underneath the flight path of a nearby airport. (Side note: When I was in college--in downtown Washington, D.C.--my dorm was 2 blocks from a major hospital--sirens all the time. We were underneath the flight path going into National Airport. Plus, it being an urban setting, there were plenty of regular police sirens. And of course the morning and evening rush hours. Once you get used to it, it doesn't bother you.)

And find the strong points--the selling points--of your property. Location is your best bet. Maybe it's very convenient to get on that nearby highway. Or maybe there are some desirable stores and shops nearby. Lots of people will make trade-offs--30 seconds to get onto a major commuter route versus 10 minutes in a quieter area, for instance.

Analyze the house, the location, and its strengths. Maybe parents of young kids are concerned about safety. But in many areas, there are big sound barriers and other structures that'll keep people safe. If the house and yard are safe--despite its being noisy, make sure you convey that information. Maybe the house is in a great school district. If so (within the limits of what you ethically can do), promote that.

Figure out who the likely purchasers are. Look around the neighborhood--what are the demographics of the neighbors. Then, again (being careful not to "steer"), make sure that your marketing efforts are reaching those folks.

Hope that helps.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
Hi Jonathan,

Seems like this might be a great house for someone with a hearing disability. Maybe this isn't a pricing issue but a marketing issue...

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Well, I don't know your client's situation, were the homeowners living there or was it a rental before? If the owner's were there before they were probably used to the noise. Owners tend to be blind and deaf to the negatives of their property. I would suggest confronting them with a choice, either spend some money and invest in some kind of decorative wall and sound barrier, or to start lowering the price on a regular basis until it sells. There's lots of houses right on noisy streets. Malibu, for instance, has no problem keeping up the prices with exclusive homes right on the main drag. If the interior is excellent, maybe the exterior needs to come up to the same level. What are the neighbors doing on the same road???? Best, Terry Bell, Realtor, Santa Rosa, CA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
For the buyer it's called Location, Location, Location ....
For the Listing Agent & Home Owner, its Price, Price Price ....

Price is the cure-all for any property ... no matter the condition ...
If staging the property will help, then try that first, however I ultimately believe its always price. You can have a house that is not attractive and still sell it if the price is right! Read Donald Trump's book "Art of the Deal." Price it right and it will sell!

I use to sell cars at one time, we had a saying ,,, there is a butt for every seat! In real estate, I say there is a homeowner for every house!

-- Rod --
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
I have a listing in Torrey Highlands that lands on page 1 of Google for keywords (not for address) and also has good traffic, but has not received any offers for three months. It's a hard market. Have you put it on Craigslist? That's not my thing, but I know several agents who go that route successfully.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Jonathan, I have a listing in La Jolla with the same problem and I believe it comes down to price. A great home with road noise is a draw back to 99% of the buyers out there today. At least according to the open house visitors who comment on the road noise at my listing. I can close the door while they're there and it's quiet inside, but as soon as they go outside to go to their cars, it's back on their minds. My advice is a dramatic price reduction - and if that can't work, I would offer a very significant buyer credit from the seller in the MLS confidential remarks. $10,000 for general closing costs comes to mind. That's a very serious number for ANY buyer no matter how much noise they hear. If and when you do this, also change the price ever so slightly so you hit the MLS hot sheets and everyone sees the home based on the new price and then can read your new confidential remarks. Good luck! ~Kim
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Depending on the price point you may want to consider reaching out to the investor/rent/lease market in which case you'd definitely have to consider lowering your price. Investors looking to build a RE rental portfolio will often consider these situations if the price is right. There's more of a rental pool in todays market that a buyers pool.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
The right price sells anything. Today's buyers are pickier than ever. They know what they want and don't want to settle. If the noise is bothersome to buyers then you need to lower the price to make it worth it to the buyer willing to put in an offer.
Masking the noise is only going to bite you in the butt if you cover it up..... they will find out at some point.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
I think Jo and Henry are getting to the points you wanted addressed, but don't overlook the price issue that is being repeated. I encountered this from the Buyers side about a month ago, perfect waterfront home, great price, exactly what my Buyer was looking for; but it was right next to a main highway. In considering some options, we spoke about plantings, water features and even garden speaker systems to detract from the 'obvious'. In the end, it was location and this client wasn't having it. That home did go under contract though, so as stated, there is a Buyer for every home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Is the noise concerning on the interior or the exterior of the home? Of course if the price is lower some buyer might want to consider noise included. Is the road noise in the front or the back? Fencing and plantings can help for exterior noise - that is pricey just like new windows. Take a look around airports and freeways to see what cities and counties do. Probably most cost effective to lower the price.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Install double windows to reduce noise. To communicate without shouting is acceptable.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011

The rule of thumb in real estate sales is there is a buyer for every home. Homes that have negative features often sell for less money. Price reductions may help to attract buyers to your home.

You may try to get the attention of buyers by offering concessions like paying for buyer’s closing costs. Also, offering a buyer’s agent a monetary bonus can encourage agents to show your home who may otherwise pass up your home.

Do everything you can to make your home shine so a buyer will overlook the noise because of the great value in your home. Best wishes in your home selling!

Carol Perdew
Prudential California Realty
(209) 239-7979
DRE 985176
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
If a house hasn't sold over a long period of time;
It is always PRICE.
Don't blame the road noise.
It is true that most people don't want a house on a busy street or within sound of a railroad; but we've all sold a lot of homes like that.
Price will overcome ANY objection.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
You have to make your price attractive enough to generate offers in spite of the noise. If a buyer wants to be in your neighborhood, you'll have to be at the low end of the price range. During the boom, buyers paid premium prices for whatever they could get, but that's all changed now. Buyers want the best home for the least money, so they won't pay the same for a house with noise as they would for a home on a quieter street.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
I think you will get the same answer - Lower the price!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Hi Jonathan, An Appraiser will also reduced the property value with road noise. Call for assistance 760 622 6855 or email
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
Hi Jonathan,
rule of thumb is that is you have had over 10 showings and no offer, you are overpriced. There is always a buyer for any home but it has to be priced at what they would consider market value. My suggestion would be to lower the price and contact every buyer that viewed the home previously. If you are close to being underwater you may need to consider a short sale.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
I would lower the price, Price does indeed sell a home even with negative items such as this.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 25, 2011
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