Posts: 16
Registered: ‎12-03-2009

House that Backs to the Freeway

OK, very knowledgeable ones of Redfin. Here is the dilemma.


House #1 is in a good neighborhood but backs to the freeway (the off ramp, specifically). You can hear a lot of noise when you're outside, but barely anything when indoors with the windows shut.


House #2 is in an OK neighborhood with no noise like that. It's not a bad neighborhood but not as nice as House #1.  All else equal, which would you buy?


I'd love to read your responses. :smileyhappy:

Posts: 30
Registered: ‎12-03-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

I guess it depends on how much time you want to spend outside :smileyhappy:


From my experience, constant background hum of the freeway is the kind of noise you can easily get used to and ignore. My parents' house is not far from the freeway, and noise isn't bothersome. However, what I find more of a problem is the dirt. Windows can easily be washed every week, and dust flies in if you leave them open.


Another point, and I don't know how much it matters to you - I think houses by the freeway are harder to sell.


It's a tough call. I would keep looking, personally, in neighborhood #1 - good neighborhood is a requirement for me.

Posts: 21
Registered: ‎11-20-2008

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

In this market, I would say don't compromise with an "either - or". Find one that fulfills both your criteria.
Super Contributor
Posts: 324
Registered: ‎04-15-2008

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

I'd get the quieter home, but that's a personal preference, especially because I love opening all the windows on a nice day.
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎08-25-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

One question is if the home near the off-ramp is at the top of your price range. If so it is unlikely that you will find one in that neighborhood at or near the same price. As a general rule homes that back to a freeway are much harder to sell and as a result usually go at a discount. You really should take some time to write down the ten things that you want in a home then rank them from 1-10,then things that are absolute show stoppers. If you find a home that satisfies at least 7 of the desired features without any show stoppers you have found your home.

Bob Gibbs
J. Rockcliff Realtors
Silver Trusted Contributor
Posts: 843
Registered: ‎05-11-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

If price is not an issue, then I would for the quiter home. You can always improve it over the year (assuming the changes required are mostly cosmetic and not structural) as you save up some money. The traffic is out of your control and you will never be able to do anything about it. The quiter home, in some sense, puts your fate in your own hands.
Regular Contributor
Posts: 175
Registered: ‎05-28-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

I wouldn't buy a home near the freeway for air quality reasons. Children who grow up <500 meters from a freeway have stunted lung development and a much higher risk of asthma & other respiratory diseases. See here.


Also, there are eminent domain risks to living right by the highway. 

Super Contributor
Posts: 262
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

House #1 has a defect that can never be remedied.  Its value will permanently be lower than others in the neighborhood that do not have the defect.  It will also be hardest to sell as the freeway will be a nonstarter for most buyers (we saw about 50 of these listed over the past year - would not even look at the details once we saw the location).


House #2 will also be limited due to the area - when you say OK then it obviously won't appeal to as many as the first area.


Personally I would not buy either one - I'd find something I could afford in a good area (and potentially upgrade) or I would rent and wait.   If I absolutely had to choose one I'd go with house #2 assuming by OK you mean castro valley or livermore, as opposed to el sobrante.

Regular Contributor
Posts: 134
Registered: ‎09-23-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

So there you have it.  The votes are in.   Stay away from the freeway home.  Funny this post came up JUST WHEN I withdrew MY offer to buy something next to the freeway.    I liked the home and knew I could fix everything else about it -- but in the end I would still be next to the noise forever.    I withdrew my offer because I kept on visiting this unit over and over again to check out the noise factor on different times and different days.    I grew to realize I would never be happy there and would always be kicking myself that I went for it because it was a little cheaper.   And then I'd be spending my time thinking about how and when I could sell it.   
Trusted Contributor
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎11-05-2009

Re: House that Backs to the Freeway

The threshhold for heavy particule setting is about 100 m from the freeway, so I would definitely stay at least that far away unless you're willing to put in a dedicated HEPA air-filtration system and HEPA filters on your HVAC intakes.  100 m is based on some pretty sophisticated atmospheric modelling as well as actual sampling.  I'd be a little worried the 500 m study didn't have enough resolution because of sample size issues (measuring the symptom rather than the cause).  In other words, they may have been forced to go out to 500m just to get enough kids in the sample to determine if there was any difference, but really it was the kids in the <100 m range that had the problems.  As long as you believe the connection between the heavy metal-laden particulates and lung problems, that works.  Pretty much anything else that makes it out to the 200-500 m range will make it farther anyway.


That being said, it sounds like #1 is within 100 m and as such, I wouldn't consider buying it unless it had some significant HEPA magic built in.  If you think the neighborhood for #2 is "good enough," go after that one.  If not, pick Option #3.