Home Selling in Menlo Park>Question Details

Joe, Both Buyer and Seller in California

How much does road noise reduce a house's value?

Asked by Joe, California Sat Oct 11, 2008

We are looking at some homes in Menlo Park, CA that get quite a lot of road noise. They are very close to a freeway, a busy street, and the on/off ramps to the freeway. Here's a description of the homes:
And here's a satellite view:
The homes have been built in the vacant space just above the red roofed building near the center of the map.

These houses are very reasonably priced for their size and the fact that are in Menlo Park with Menlo Park schools. We believe we can handle the road noise, but we're concerned about resale value. Obviously there's no magic formula, but is there a way for us to gauge what might happen to the value of these houses? Will they rise like others, or will the road noise keep them from appreciating as quickly as others.

Thanks in advance.

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi, Joe,

Road noise can drammatically effect your value. As an appraiser for many years, I can tell you that it can seriously impact value.

For a time, I was an appraiser for what used to be World Mortgage. They used to portfolio their loans and would not lend money, in most cases, for purchases of homes which were on very busy streets or had lots of other external adversities.

Do yourself a favor and remember that LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION is the most important thing in choosing your home because it is the one thing that you can't change. You can redecorate, send your kids to different schools, etc., but you are stuck with the view and surrounds of the locale that you select.

Good Luck!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008
In Oklahoma, at minimum, it seems about 10-15%.

Sellers in single family neighborhoods, often wonder why it takes a 10% discount (or so) to sell while other homes on the interior of the neighborhood sell faster, for more money.

Perhaps, if the community is "all" in what appears to be a high traffic area...and all back to the road, they all may suffer or "be about the same" for price to purchase or for resale. I'd be a little hesitant buying a home directly backing to the road, if there were other options.

Unless, of course, the offer they made was absolutely way below market...way below market including the surrounding area.

All the best!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008
Hey Joe, great answers below. One other item/example to think about... take a condo development as our example. The condo units themselves will be very similar, same location, same floor plan etc. If they sell in the same month they should be pretty close in price all things equal. However consider one has an ocean view and the others don't. Most likely you would be willing to pay a premium for that view. Not everyone would, but most would. Same goes for noise... one condo has noise another similar one doesn't most likely the one without noise would sell for more. When you move out to residential areas it is harder to compare. Houses are different styles, different sizes etc. If you can get a large enough sample of sold homes in the noisy areas and compare to quieter areas you may be able to figure what the premium is for a quiet home. You want to be sure that is factored into the pricing when you buy and know that when you sell it will most likely still exist.(unless they move the freeway) As prices in the bay area move up and down they will all move about the same plus or minus the different premiums for features like noise, view, location. Do your homework up front and if you can live with the noise know you are paying a current fair market price or better. Then when you sell do your homework again and price so that you are competing against similar homes with similar noise levels.

2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008

You have struck a "real estate nerve."

Although it may not be a problem for you, it will most definately effect the future marketability of this property. We see its impact on a daily basis and witness people first hand that walk away from absolutely beautiful homes that match their criteria perfectly because....................of road noise.

With this in mind, it will most certainly affect the value and sale of the home.

One of the considerations we point our for our customers is the importance of considering the resale value of any home before purchasing it. With desirability weighing in heavily, road noise, dust and dirt, and its affect on general maintenance will be a major distraction. We would conservatively estimate that the "road noise" issue would be a negative factor for about half of the future buyers.

Good luck with your decision.

The "Eckler Team"
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008
Hi Joe:

What may be as much of an issue as price is the fact that such homes are harder to sell, which can mean it will be on the market longer when you decide to move on. However, if you are getting the home for less than you would pay for nearby homes, and will then sell it for about the same percentage discount, the noise may not be much of an issue when you sell. One thing to keep in mind is that this is still very much a buyers market. Right now, buyers are demanding much. Eventually that will change, which means that there may be less competition when you sell. Of course, the house market, like any marketplace, is hard to predict. The best you can do is make an educated guess. You are wise to think this through carefully.

Ron Rovtar
Prudential Real Estate of the Rockies
Boulder, CO
Web Reference: http://www.rovtar.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 11, 2010
I just sold a home to a client who was first very impressed with a house in good condition on a very nice upscale street, in Rocklin, CA. Only problem was that it backed up to a very busy boulevard. After a couple of days of careful consideration he canceled the sale and purchased a quieter, but more beat up home across the street. He figured that he could repaint and put in new floors and light fixtures in the fixer, but he would never have been able to move the boulevard.

Though you may mitigate the sound inside the house, it is a little harder to mitigate the sound level in the yard.

For valuation purposes, if you can live with the high decibels, I would roughly put the discount at roughly 10 to 15%. (In my region) It could be better or worse, depending on the highway. I defer to local San Mateo Realtors for a clearer answer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
Hi Joe,
As a general issue, it does affect a home's value. In your case, it may depend on the street, neighborhood, type of traffic, etc. I highly recommend you speak with a local Menlo Park Realtor who will know those streets and their traffic patterns like the back of his/her hand. I personally know 3 that would provide you with straightforward feedback. Arn Cenedella, Kevin Boer, and Joe Parsons. Arn's website is below for your reference. The other two will be easy to find online also.

Marian Bennett, Coldwell Banker
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008
Hello Joe,
Well it seems that your are concerned about road noise affecting the future resale value of the property you are thinking to purchase. If this is a concern to you it means that potential future buyers might think the same way. But than again in a good market condition when the supply is lower than the demand those concerns will pretty much desappear. As you are metioning in your question the school district is also one of the best in the Bay Area which will be a major pivot for future buyers. Also the fact that the houses are brand new is also a positive point for future buyers. Now you also have to take in consderation of the amount of time you are going to keep this property. Don't forget when the house will be appraised at time of purchase, the appraisor will take those items in consideration and will reflect them by adjusting the value/dollars amount from the comparables.
Since you are buying it today at a buyers market maybe you might be able to negotiate a liitle bit on the price and also ask for the seller or the builders to pay for your closing costs. Again street noise can be a negative think when selling your property, it all depends on when you will be selling it. I hope this will help you decide on your purchase. If you have any other concerns just. shoot me an email at zoeytolu@hotmail.com.
Good luck!

Zoey Tolu
Century 21 Realty Alliance
SAn Mateo, Ca 94402
Cell: 650-619-3379
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 12, 2008
Just to update my previous answer. Currently homes with noise, nearby traffic, or next to other less desirable locations like factories or warehouses seem to be selling every bit as well (and for almost as much money) as properties in better locations. This is because markets in many areas have inventory problem. This is good for the sellers, but I worry that the buyers will have trouble getting equally good prices when they sell. If the market becomes more "normal" or if it becomes a buyer's market again, then the current buyers or these properties might regret their decisions. It all depends on the market when they sell.

Ron Rovtar
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 30, 2013
This question has two elements: 1) How much does noise affect the perceived value of a property and 2) how much does the noise actually affect the occupants of the home on a day to day basis. As many will say, "perception is reality" so if buyers stay away because of a perceived noise issue, then there is little you can do to dissuade them.

However, if you are willing to consider a home in an otherwise desirable area, there are likely others who also look for similar values. Then, it becomes important to demonstrate that the noise not an issue. Noise from roads, transit lines, railroads or even noisy neighbors typically enters thru the windows. I work with a manufacturer of a window insulation product that not only looks great (meaning you can't really see it) and provides thermal insulation, but also reduces the sound coming thru the window by 50% or more.

Indow Windows are interior window inserts that fit into the inside of your existing window frame to provide superior thermal and noise insulation for at an affordable price. Because they require no screws, nails or adhesives, they can be easily removed or reinstalled as desired. Check them out at http://www.indowwindows.com.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 30, 2013
"These houses are very reasonably priced for their size and the fact that are in Menlo Park with Menlo Park schools."

The reason they are "reasonably priced" is that they are next to a freeway. I have a listing just like that. If this property were relocated two blocks away that value would increase by 20%. So you are buying a home that is worth 20% less than a home on a quiet street. When you sell it, you'll get 20% less than a comparable home that is not by the freeway.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 12, 2010
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
When you sell , it will not sell as quickly as a home in a better location specially in a buyer's market. You will get a bargain now and when you sell there will be someone who will buy it for the same reasons : good schools., if they get a bargain.
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 11, 2010
We had soundproof curtains in our house, and it helped blackout the noise from the neighbors while our potential buyers came by. Sounds kind of bad... At least we left them behind when we moved out! Got some from here, although there might be some others? residential-acoustics.com
Flag Tue Sep 8, 2015
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