Posted on July 31, 2012
Similar to my blogs, Appealing to the Visual Sense: Selling a Shiny, Sparkling Home and Smelling Your Home, this is about another of the senses – the auditory sense and what you hear inside and outside of the home…. Though this time, it’s not about selling a home, but buying one. When you are buying a home, your senses are on high alert. Is the home visually pleasing? Does the house have an appealing smell? And very importantly, is the property noisy or quiet, and what do I hear when I am there? The reason that this is written from the buyer’s viewpoint is because unfortunately the seller can’t do much about the noise of the location – “It is what it is,” as we like to say. The sellers have also likely accepted their home’s location, and therefore they have adjusted to and become de-sensitized to the sounds. And so it comes down to where the buyers and their preferences fall on the noise spectrum.
Over the years, I have met buyers – as my clients and as potential buyers of my listings – who have absolutely no tolerance for noise and others who have a high tolerance for it. And that preference can only be decided by the buyer. In other words, it may be that a noisy home suits one buyer just fine and not another. It’s quite personal, and therefore one (i.e., a real estate agent, spouse or friend) can’t necessarily evaluate the noise factor for another.
Often what goes hand-in-hand with a noisy location is convenience. That being said, noisier locations can still be desirable. In fact, where I live in Weston, MA, it’s fairly well known that the southside of town has more transportation noise than the northside, and yet the convenient location of the southside makes it highly desirable. And interestingly on the North Shore of Boston, many of the coveted neighborhoods in Manchester-by-the-Sea, for example, abut the train commuter line – go figure?!
In some cases, you may have to accept road noise based on your preference for a certain type of home. If you tend to like older, antique homes, many of them were built on busier streets and as a result have road noise. On the other hand, an ultra-quiet location may feel too remote for some buyers, especially those moving from a more urban location and those who welcome and are used to the sounds of the hustle and bustle of activity.
If we get right down to it, the truth about noise – for those who are willing to consider a busier location – is that it is generally something for which you build a tolerance. After a while, you acclimate to the sounds and basically don’t hear them anymore. Take it from me; I live in a home that is quite close to the South Station commuter line. I am so used to the sounds that most of the time, I don’t even notice that the train has passed by.
So let’s just say that you have fallen in love with a house on a busier street or in a noisier location, and you have decided to move forward and buy it. Your next question may be – can fences, barriers or berms help? My answer to this – based on the many houses I have toured and helped clients buy and sell over the years – is yes, to a degree. But this is mostly because of the visual trick that your mind plays on you. If you can’t see it (the busy road or train line, for example), it’s harder to hear it, but the sounds are still there. The same is true for waterfalls. The soothing sound of the water falling can mask the sound of the noise, but at the end of the day, the sounds are still there….
What are your thoughts? Where do you stand on the noise spectrum? And has it influenced to buy or not buy a home? I can’t wait to hear….