How bad is the traffic noise for properties with backyards that are right against Foothill Expressway? (e.g., Deodora Dr.)?

Asked by bnb, Los Altos, CA Sat May 11, 2013

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David Blockh…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Sun May 12, 2013
I'm assuming you are writing about 1941 Deodara Drive. Go to the open house and stand in the backyard. Mother's Day Sunday should be the quietest it will ever get.

I would never buy a home that backs up to a busy/high traffic street. I spend a great deal of time in my backyard and don't want the constant noise. I consider it an incurable defect. There is nothing you can do to reduce the noise.

There are two questions that you need to answer. Is the noise actually too loud? Is there a perception that it is too loud? Answer yes to either and the "noise" should be reflected in the desirability and eventual sales price of the home.

Check other options in your price range. Maybe there is something that is in a better location that over time you can add value to it. I think you will be happier with that choice, especially when it comes time to sell.

David Blockhus
Coldwell Banker - Downtown Los Altos Office
650 917-4250
1 vote
Richard Calh…, Agent, Saratoga, CA
Sat May 11, 2013
Acceptable noise levels depend on the individual and their lifestyle. I like being outside and live with my windows opened. I would not purchase a property where the noise level is anything other than background. This would eliminate homes within a couple of blocks of a busy street.

Noise from roads tends to be louder in rain and when there is an inversion lay close to the ground.

Many people will consider the noise to be a negative, so the price will be lower. If you are a person that lives inside, with the windows closed and the A/C on, a home with traffic noise will likely not negatively impact you and you will get more house for the money as value is lower to offset eliminating some consumers.
1 vote
Do you know if Los Altos has any local ordinances prohibiting residences from installing an "acoustical fence" and/or any experience with any residents along Foothill Expressway who have done so? We also spend a lot of time outdoors and would not want to purchase anything along Foothill Expressway unless there is a relatively easy way to lessen some of the noise.
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Isaac and Ma…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Sat May 11, 2013
Thanks to double-pane windows and other insulation, the traffic noise inside the house is least noticeable. You probably won't even notice it if the TV is on or having a normal conversation. The traffic noise outside the house is definitely noticeable particularly during the commute hours. However, after a while you probably will get used to it and your mind will block it out. On the positive note, this issue is reflected in the lower asking price. You will get more for your money vs buying another house far away from the expressway.
1 vote
Tony, Home Buyer, Los Altos, CA
Wed May 29, 2013
Most people here have already concluded that it will be noisy to live with the backyards against Foothill Expressway, but there are ways to seal off the noise so it is more quiet inside the house, not a problem at all. Moreover, depending on your level of noise tolerance dictates your decision to buy or not. I would like to add one important thing in the discussion. If you now find the house has a specific location issue or defect, when it is time for you to sell, other potential buyers will have a similar problem as yours right now. As a result, your house (a significant amount of invested money) will appreciate at a much much lower rate than other homes at a more "normal" locations. You can see this clearly by comparing the purchased prices and sold prices of homes in the last 3 months that were near high way 280, 85, Foothill, Miramonte, Grant Rd, or large electrical transformers, etc.
0 votes
Juliana Lee…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Fri May 17, 2013
Having a home with its backyard next to a busy road will always reduce its desirability. The real question is will the reduced price may it a good choice for you?

As a general guidance, if you or your spouse don't spend time in your yard and you don't like to have your windows open then it might be a good choice for you.

Any remodeling or even building a new house can provide an opportunity to keep noise inside the house to a minimum perhaps giving a greater than average return on the expense.

Some people find the sound of waterfalls or fountains relaxing, but not everyone. Either would help make the traffic less noticeable. Inside the home music will also help cover the noise and is often desired even in a quiet home.

I've worked with people who lived for years next to a busy road and were not significantly bothered by it. The choice is a very personal choice.

Los Altos real estate information at

Juliana Lee
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty, the nations largest
Cell 650-857-1000

Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.
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0 votes
Denise Welsh, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Sat May 11, 2013
some of the homes on Deodora are not that bad - there is sufficient clearance from the road and the mature trees filter some of the noise! It varies by property - if you look at an aerial view you will see how the road curves away from the homes...
0 votes
Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Sat May 11, 2013
Hi Brb and thanks for your post.

Having lived in Los Altos, I can vouch for the fact that Foothill Expressway is the main "commute" route through the town, and, as such, traffic is pretty constant along the roadway during the daytime. At night, the traffic is reduced, but there is still traffic.

Now as to what is considered "bad" traffic noise, that's strictly a matter of personal opinion. I now live near Highway 85--a very busy freeway, but the soundwall that rises near my home and the double paned windows in each room helps to deflect a lot of the noise along the road. Still I do hear the larger trucks or the occasional speeding motorcycle on the freeway, but this is actually acceptable to me since, frankly, I can (and have) slept through loud windstorms and earthquakes and my son's electric guitar sessions, so noise is not a huge issue for me or the family. I've also noticed that humans are remarkably adaptable in "filtering" noise over time, so that after a while, you don't seem to notice the sounds at all.

For many, however, hearing the noise from even a well used interior street can be problematic, so if you are sensitive to noise or feel uncomfortable with the traffic and exhaust in the area, a home located near a well traveled section of roadway, like Foothill Expressway, might be a situation that requires further research and contemplation before acting.

The best thing to do is to go to the home with your agent and review the sound levels at all times of the day--morning, evening, weekends to see if these are acceptable to you. Do keep in mind that being located near the Foothill Expressway will cause some price depression in the home value, but you will still be privy to the many other wonderful benefits of living in Los Altos.

Work with your Realtor to evaluate this home further before making a decision!

Good luck!
Grace Morioka
Allison James Estates & Homes
Buyer Rebates to 1.5% of the Sales Price and Low Cost Listings to Sellers
Tel (408) 426-1616
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