Does Noise Pollution Affect Chicago Real Estate?

Watch any TV show about the homebuying process - maybe something on HGTV - and you’re bound to see a prospective buyer frown at a property and announce to their real estate agent something like this:

“I love the land. I like that the kitchen and baths have been redone. And I love that it’s so close to a great school. But I don’t think I could live here. Why? Well, do you hear that? Or that?”

After saying this, the buyer points to a road, where one or two cars whiz by. Or maybe they point overhead, where a plane appears to be coming in for a landing

At this point, the agent tries to make their case: “Sure, it may be a little loud outside, but-”

“No. Way too noisy. Next house.”

For many homebuyers, a little bit of noise pollution can be a very big deal.

In a city like Chicago, noise can be a particularly tricky issue to navigate, because it can come from so many sources. With cars and buses on the road, metra and L trains rumbling by on elevated tracks, and planes taking off and landing from two major regional airports, Chicago can be a loud city, no matter where you choose to put down roots.

But what effect do noise and noise pollution have on home values in the Chicago market?

Ultimately, the answer to that question really comes down to who you ask. Some parties are quick to raise a clamor over issues with noise - but others will say it’s a whole lot of wailing over nothing.

How Does Noise Pollution Affect Property Values?  

For one way to suss out the effect of noise, we could look to areas where noise pollution may pose a real, substantive issue for homeowners - near CTA stations, say, or in close proximity to airports.

Take the L, for example. Living close to a major L stop is bound to come with rattling, roaring, squeaking train sounds - and yet, as Curbed Chicago  points out, “empirical evidence has always suggested that apartments closer to transit will cost more.” To wit, the site offers an interactive graph that corroborates this idea, suggesting that median rental prices continue to climb in areas within a quarter-mile of an L stop.

Similarly, looking at a map of real estate prices near L stops - which we have made available here - we can see that home values (in terms of price per square foot) actually increase the closer you get to major transportation hubs, such as the Merchandise Mart stop in the Near North area.

From this data, we can infer that the advantages of living close to a train station - such as a shorter, more convenient commute - may outweigh the costs in terms of noise pollution, making these areas not only desirable, but actually more valuable overall. We see this reflected in property values, and many of the buyers we’ve worked with over the years would likely tell you the same thing.

We see a similar trend in place when it comes to airports, another potential source of noise pollution. As the Chicago Tribune points out, homes under direct flight paths may sell for somewhat less on average - and yet the areas around Chicago’s major airports tend to be some of the hottest markets in the city.

As Chicago Agent Magazine once noted, “Chicagoland real estate agents and homeowners do not see a problem with the noise pollution in relation to property values.”

This is particularly true for neighborhoods on the northwest side of Chicago, which put homeowners in close proximity to O’Hare airport. Chicago Agent suggests that buyers “will overlook the noise if they want to live in an area near O’Hare,” and indeed, some of “Chicago’s top-selling neighborhoods are located in the Northwest Side.”

Ultimately, again, the benefits of the area - such as proximity to great schools and transportation options - tend to keep home values strong, despite the risk of noise pollution. As the Tribune puts it: “...what homeowners can manage — or ignore — seems to be relative to their priorities.”

What Can Buyers and Sellers Do About Noise Pollution?

If you’re a buyer or seller anxious about the potential for noise in your Chicago neighborhood, it’s important to remember that you have options!

For example, many new constructions in noisy, population dense areas like Wrigleyville or the Near North tend to come with state-of-the-art soundproofing, such as building materials designed to muffle or eliminate exterior noise. But even older homes can be retrofitted with soundproof upgrades, like new windows - and there are actually local and federal programs in place to help homeowners near Midway and O’Hare update their homes and mitigate the potential effects of noise pollution. Touting the benefits of these programs could be a great way to sweeten the deal for the right buyer!

Ultimately, it also pays to remember this: Succeeding in the Chicago marketplace will come down to more than any one factor - even if it’s a roaring one, like noise pollution.

Schools, neighborhood market conditions, access to public transportation, availability of restaurants, nightlife, or parks - all of these conditions and more will affect what a buyer is willing to pay for a home in Chicagoland. Similarly, every buyer will have their own unique list of wants and needs; noise may be a dealbreaker for one family, and a complete non-factor for the next.

The bottom line? If you’re a buyer or seller looking for the best deal possible, it’s important to work with the right team from the start. That’s where Real Group RE comes in! Our experienced team knows the ins and outs of your local market, allowing us to find the right price from the beginning - and consistently beat the market for buyers and sellers alike!

Have any questions about property values or market conditions in your Chicago neighborhood? Curious about listings around the city? Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!

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