Is it safe to buy a house right next to railway track?

Asked by jodeepali, Germantown, MD Thu Jan 17, 2013

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Marcy Moyer, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Thu Jan 17, 2013
I am not sure what you mean by safe. If you mean are you in danger from the trains then I think you are probably fine. While it is possible that Cal Train could derail, I am not aware of any incident where someone has been hurt who lives in an adjacent property. If you are talking about your investment being safe, that is another matter.
Homes next to trains will always be worth less than a similar home that is not next to a train. The noise will devalue the property. When the market is good, a home next to a train will still sell, just for less money than one without the noise. However, when the market is bad, homes next to trains will not only sell for less, but will also be harder to sell. In a buyer's market, buyers get to choose between many homes, and the train track home may not be chosen.

Marcy Moyer
Keller Williams Realty
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Thanks Marcy, for answering my question. I meant theft or any other crime safety. Sorry I wan not clear before.
Flag Thu Jan 17, 2013
Juliana Lee…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Fri Jan 25, 2013
Palo Alto residents and the city council have been very concerned about the affects of the High Speed Rail coming up the peninsula. Mountain View has had few concerns.…

There is a lot of uncertainty with how the High Speed Rail will affect the train stations. Mountain View recently upgraded their station but did not address issues the High Speed Rail will bring. Their new station may have to undergo significant changes.

Most peninsula cities suffer more opportunistic crime near public areas where people spend time. A lot of the increased crime due to economic pressures seems to have targeted residential areas.

Home prices near the train tracks reflect the noise and traffic congestion. I have not seen concerns about crime probably due in part to the fact that train stations are either in commercial areas or near new condominium developments having restricted public access.

The biggest unknown is the High Speed Rail.

Juliana Lee, MBA LLB
Cell 650-857-1000
Top 3 agent nationwide at Keller Williams

Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 home sales completed in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
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1 vote
Russ Ravary, Agent, Commerce Township, MI
Tue Mar 5, 2013
The dangers of a derailment are there always. But what are the odds of it happening I don't know
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jodeepali, Home Buyer, Germantown, MD
Thu Jan 17, 2013
Thanks to everybody for answering my question. It helps a lot with the decision.
I am also concerned about more possibilitis of theft etc. because of train station nearby.
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Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Thu Jan 17, 2013
Safe yes....but I would think twice. Is this for you to live in or is it a rental? Either way, know that anyone who is sensitive to noise might find this a negative. I would also determine the times when the trains start and stop to help you make an informed decision.

Best of luck.
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John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Thu Jan 17, 2013
I have to take issue with the loss of value theory. Again if the property is in a high demand area i.e. beach cities, resort areas, lakes, rivers, etc. I hardly think you'd lose much in value. Talk to the folks who have beach front properties in San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, North San Diego Coastal, etc.

As I stated in my previous comment if you live in a less desirable area i.e. East LA, Barstow, CA it would be a completely different situation and most probably a take away on value.
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Elena Talis, Broker, Palo Alto, CA
Thu Jan 17, 2013
Yes, it is safe. But keep in mind that the house value will be affected - wait for the train to come by while you are on the property. Also try to find as much as you can about California High Speed Rail project and how it may affect the properties you are looking at.
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Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Thu Jan 17, 2013
Hi Jodeepali:

Thanks for your post. As my pal, Marcy noted below, living near a train station or train tracks in Mountain View, CA is pretty safe. I've lived in this county all of my life, and I cannot remember any incidents of a train derailment in Mountain View or any area in the county. Part of the reason, of course, is that our commuter trains are required to travel at much slower speeds--usually only the same speed as surrounding traffic, so the potential for problems (even with multi-cars) is extremely limited at 30-40 mph.

Although train issues are not a severe component in choosing a home next to the railways, I'd heed Marcy's sage advice about home values next to a railroad track or railroad station. I lived across from the rails for about a year and the first month it was very noisy because commuter trains travel on those rails about 1x every 30 minutes in the morning and the same frequency in the afternoon. Because sound isn't a huge issue for me, I acclimated ot the noise fairly quickly and never seemed to "hear" it after a while. So, while some people don't mind the train (or, in fact, love the sound of it), others will find the possibility a deterrent to buying the home and the value will need to be adjusted in consideration of the added inconvenience of sound.

Good luck!!
Grace Morioka
Allison James Estates & Homes
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My NC Homes…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Thu Jan 17, 2013
Safe as in the train not derailing and crashing into your home or safe as in holding value for resale?

For the first part of my question I'd say any physical risk of living next to a train track is pretty slight; probably less than living directly on a busy street. As to re-sale value that's another thing entirely and without know more about the area it's extremely difficult to say. I can tell you with more than a quarter of a century of experience as a Broker that I' have never once had a buyer client ask me to show them property adjacent to train tracks and most would consider this a negative. This means if you buy it you're going to have a very limited pool of buyers willing to consider it when you go to sell. Now if you're getting it at a deeply discounted priced in comparison to similar homes in the area and understand that when the time comes and you want to sell, that you'll be selling it at a discounted rate in comparison to other homes nearby and it works for you in terms of location, size, bedrooms, floor plan etc, then there's no good reason not to consider it.
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John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Thu Jan 17, 2013
You mean safe from a safety standpoint or safe as a RE investment. If it's the former I would suggest not trying to cross the tracks when the red lights are blinking or the gates are down. LOL!

If it's about a RE investment I can tell you from first hand experience having a beach casita within a football field to the East and the beautiful Blue Pacific my values continue to go up. That stated, I'm not too sure how your value would be impacted if you lived close to the RR in Barstow.
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