External Influence of Rail Road Tracks on Real Estate

Are you considering buying a home that is located near rail road tracks? Do you live by rail road tracks? Does this affect the value of your home?

When appraising real estate location is always a factor that is considered. If a property is located next to an active rail road track this would be an external factor and its impact would need to be considered when valuing a property. Would it be considered an external obsolescence?

The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal defines "external obsolescence" as an element of depreciation; a defect, usually incurable, cased by negative influences outside a site and generally incurable on the part of the owner, landlord or tenant.

A rail road track would be considered an outside influence that is not curable by the owner, landlord or tenant. The noise of the train would be bothersome to some buyers. If there were two identical houses one located near a train and one not, the house without the rail road influence would be more desirable. Most buyers would be willing to pay more for a house not located near the sound of the train horn roaring by at all hours day and night. So how does an appraiser determine the effect of the external influence of a rail road track when a property is located near it?

The amount of depreciation of the external obsolescence of a rail road can be determined by looking at the market and doing a paired sales analysis. An appraiser can look at similar sales of homes located near the rail road tracks and similar homes that are not located near the rail road tracks and the difference in sale price would determine the adjustment amount. For another example of how adjustments are determined you can read our post on how adjustments for pools are determined.

Sometimes the influence is very minimal, especially in the case of small markets with very few sales. The small community of Pilot Point has recently been considering a noise ordinance to prohibit the train horn sounding through the community. Some wanted to know the effect of the values for homes near the train. We did a market analysis to determine the effect of the train and we did not find a great reduction in values of homes located near the train. Pilot Point is a very small community with a population of 4,006 per 2013 census data. The town is one of the oldest in Denton County and grew up around the rail road and the track runs right through the middle of town. Here is a map of the city of Pilot Point and we have highlighted the train tracks in yellow.

We looked at sales of homes within a block both directions of the rail road tracks. The majority of homes along the rail road track were built prior to 1980 and are less than 2,000 sq ft. Appraisers must compare apples to apples so decided to compare all homes built prior to 1980 with 2,000 sq ft or less located a block from the rail road tracks to homes built prior to 1980 with 2,000 sq ft or less located in the rest of Pilot Point (excluding the sales a block from the tracks). There were so very few sales that we increased the time to all sales within the past five years. Here are our findings.

When you look at the five history the median sale price of sales of our comparison homes near the rail road was $71,500 and the median sale price of homes without the rail road influence was $75,600. So there is a difference of $4,100. You could conclude an adjustment of around $4,000 for the external influence of the rail road. It is noted that this is a very small pool of data (24 sales).

Each market is difference. Here is a map of the city of Aubrey which is located five miles south of the city of Pilot Point. Similar markets but different. Here is a map of the city of Aubrey with the rail road highlighted.

Aubrey had more sales than Pilot Point and the majority of the homes built along the rail road were built after 1990 and were less than 2,000 sq ft. Looking at sales built after 1990 with less than 2,000 sq ft located a block from the rail road and those that were not we did the same comparison. We also looked at sales for the past five years in Aubrey. Here are our findings:

In this comparison, the median sale price of homes near the rail road is $114,000 and the median sale price of homes without the rail road influence is $129,000. There is a difference of $15,000. There were a larger number of sales in the data analyzed in Aubrey compared to Pilot Point as this data pool is 60 sales.

You can conclude that the rail road influence in Aubrey is much greater than the influence in the city of Pilot Point. Since there are few sales in Pilot Point the market will not reflect as much difference in rail road influence as there is less competition. This analysis illustrates why markets must be analyzed individually to determine the market adjustment.

We hope this helps in understanding the influence of rail roads on real estate. This is certainly not the only way to determine the external influence on properties but with limited data we believe this gives a good indicator of rail road influences in two separate markets. Let us know your thoughts or if you have any questions @ www.dwslaterco.com

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. The information is meant entirely for educational purposes and casual reading only and is NOT intended for any other use. This information is NOT intended to support an opinion of value for your appraisal needs or any sort of value conclusion for a loan, litigation, tax appeal or other potential real estate or non real estate purpose. If you’d like to obtain additional information or order an appraisal for your specific needs, please contact us at www.dwslaterco.com.

#railroad #externalinfluence #adjustments

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