Has your property search led you to the perfect house, only to find the house is right next to a motorway? If so, you may be asking should you buy it?
Is a house next to a motorway a compromise too far? So should you buy a house next to a motorway?
You should only buy a house next to a motorway if you love the house, you are content with the background noise from living near a fast road and the purchase price reflects its location. You may also want to consider the pollution factor and of course the resale value in the future.
Is it bad living next to a motorway?
It isn’t good living next to a motorway or major highway for the following reasons:
- Traffic pollution causes asthma attacks in children.
- Traffic pollution may cause other effects such as the onset of childhood asthma, impaired lung function, premature death and death from cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular morbidity.
- Studies have found an increased risk of premature death from living near a major highway or an urban road.
- A study of adults who live close to heavy traffic have a higher risk of dementia, although the strongest association was those who lived in major cities within 50 metres (164 feet) of the roads and have never moved.
- In a study of older men it was found that long-term exposure to traffic pollution increased their risk of having poor cognition.
- Increased noise pollution will have an impact on sleep quality, whereby if it’s at levels of 55dB this is considered dangerous for public health, increasing annoyance and sleep disturbances.
What are the factors to consider with buying a house next to a motorway?
There are a number of factors to take into account with any house that’s next to or near a motorway. These include the following:
- The prevailing wind direction: If the prevailing wind is towards the house, this will carry the noise further. Find out which direction the prevailing wind is from and then use a compass to check where the motorway is in relation to the house. You can get a compass app on your phone. Always remember when wind direction is described, this is the direction from where the wind is coming from (i.e. it’s not the direction of wind travel).
- Distance from the motorway: The further away the house is from the motorway, the less the noise levels will be. You should take a look at this website Extrium, which provides noise levels near to major highways in England. Even if you don’t live in England, this map will still be useful for you to understand how distance affects noise levels from busy highways. But also read this article about how far from a motorway can you hear it too in conjunction with this map.
- Topography of the land between the motorway and the house location: If you click on the above linked article about how far from a motorway can you hear it, you will see how much of a difference this can make. In the article I pick two towns/villages that are 0.9 miles and 0.7 miles away. If you purchased a house in the village that’s 0.7 miles away your noise levels would be less than 55dB, whereas the town that’s 0.9 miles away, the decibels levels are between 55-59.99dB. In the article I provide a very useful table of comparable decibel sounds.
- If the house has double or triple glazing: The closer the house is to the highway, the more important it is the house has double of triple glazed windows. However, double glazing doesn’t help when you open the windows. Nor will it help with noise levels in the garden of the property either.
- Resale value: The closer a house is to a motorway, and the greater the noise levels, the lower the value will be when compared to similar properties further away or that are nowhere near a busy highway (see below).
- Length of time to sell in the future: It will take longer to sell a house next to a motorway, as less buyers will want to buy a house in this location.
- Are you a light sleeper? If you are a light sleeper you shouldn’t buy a house next to a motorway, especially if you like to sleep with your windows open at night.
How to minimise the affects of noise from a nearby motorway
One of the only ways to cancel out the sound of a nearby motorway would be to have a water feature in the garden. Water features have a calming effect and will focus your attention on the nearby sound of running water, which will drown-out the motorway noise.
Whereas inside the house it will benefit from having double of triple glazed windows, which will cut down on noise pollution. But this won’t help when the windows are open in the summer months.
Having said this, we live in a house that’s about 120 metres from a dual carriage way. At busier times we can hear the background sound when we are in the garden, but this sounds like the sea to my wife and me. There are trees between us and the road, which I think does help. But Dorset council also resurfaced this road to quieter tarmac too.
This also conflicts with the decibel levels in the article about how far from a motorway can you hear it. But in particular this section about motorway noise levels. Which confirms to me that you should visit the property more than once to check noise levels for yourself.
Occasional you get a fast car or motorbike fly down the road, or an emergency vehicle blue lighting, and these are noisy. But inside the house we can’t hear the road, unless the windows are open, but even then the noise is hardly noticeable.
On a positive note, we are well positioned to get straight on this dual carriageway to shoot straight into Bournemouth if we wish. So if the house you are looking to buy is convenient to a motorway junction, some buyers may see this as a selling point if they travel for work.
I far prefer living near this dual carriage way than when I lived next to a small B-road. When lorries drove past, the house vibrated so it was far noisier.
But then this is the house I refer to in my video course about selling your house in under 2 weeks for more money. This house was right on quite a fast road, but because of the work I’d done and how it was presented, it sold very quickly.
I’d much rather live near this dual carriageway or even near a motorway than live next to a busy A-road or on a busy junction where vehicles are slowing down and accelerating away or even the B-road I lived on, as these are far noisier.
What to do before you buy a house next to a motorway
Before you put an offer in on a property next to a motorway, visit the property at different times of the day to check noise levels. Ask the vendor of the property if you can open the windows in the house to listen to noise levels, especially check these levels in the bedrooms, and at busier times of the day.
Also, stand in the garden at different times of the day to see how noisy the traffic sounds are.
Then do your research on properties in the area before you put an offer in.
Check comparable sold prices of similar houses that are nowhere near a busy highway. The house next to the motorway should be priced at less than a comparable property that isn’t next to a motorway with all else being equal.
Road noise and the value of a home
The higher the noise levels, the more this will affect the value of a home.
Using this calculator, I have given you a few examples of how road noise will affect the value of homes in percentage terms from one decibel level to the next:
How noise will affect the value of a home with different decibel levels:
- 35dB to 75dB – 16% value drop, which on a similar house worth £250,000 would drop in value by at least £40,000. 75 decibels would be within 20-30 metres from the motorway, which is an unlikely location.
- 35dB to 70dB – 14% value drop, which on a similar house worth £250,000 would drop in value by at least £35,000. 70 decibels would be within a 0.1 of a mile from the motorway.
- 35dB to 65dB – 12% value drop, which on a similar house worth £250,000 would drop in value by at least £30,000. 65 decibels would be within a 0.2 of a mile from the motorway.
- 35dB to 60dB – 10% value drop, which on a similar house worth £250,000 would drop in value by at least £25,000. 60 decibels would be within a 0.2-0.5 of a mile from the motorway.
- 35dB to 55dB – 8% value drop, which on a similar house worth £250,000 would drop in value by at least £20,000. 55 decibels would be within a 0.5-1.5 miles from the motorway.
Note: I am not sure how accurate the calculator is that I link to above, which is what I used in making these calculations, but it gives you a starting point. Also, I have used 35dB as a starting point, as this is a very low decibel level and only just over the noise of a whisper.
If you would like to find out how to negotiate down the price of a house, you might want to take a read of this article about how to make an offer on a house below asking price.
Point 8 in this article is key to offering low or in making a cheeky offer on a house.
With point 8 in mind, you would definitely benefit by reading this article about selling your house and renting before buying again. But please read this in conjunction with taking a look at my video course about how to sell your house in under 2 weeks for more money.
With this course you get the free mortgage savings calculator, which could save you £71,475 on your next house purchase.
Can you get a mortgage on a property next to a motorway?
You will normally be able to get a mortgage on a property next to a motorway. But the valuation will be affected by how close it is, which will affect how much you can borrow from lenders.
What are the pros and cons of buying a house next to a motorway?
As with anything, there are always pros and cons to consider. As far as buying a house next to a motorway the pros and cons include.
Pros of buying a house next to a motorway
- You can get a bigger and better house for less money.
- If the motorway is next to a junction, this makes it a benefit for commuters.
- For those people who don’t like it too quiet, the motorway provides the background noise.
- The sound is a constant background sound that you can get used to and some find soothing and it can sound like the sea.
- If the house isn’t downwind of the motorway, the sound won’t be as bad.
Cons of buying a house next to a motorway
- Your house will probably take longer to sell.
- The value will be lower than a comparable house not next to a motorway.
- The garden will be noisier if the house is next to a motorway.
- If you are a light sleeper you won’t like the noise.
- You are exposed to the risks of pollution.
- Fast sports cars, motorbikes and blue-light emergency vehicles will be very noisy.
- Noise is not good for a restful night’s sleep, especially if you sleep with the windows open.
- When it rains and the roads are wet, it gets noisier.
- If the house is downwind of the motorway, the sound will be worse.
- If it’s near to a junction this will be noisier.
Final thoughts about whether you should you buy a house next to a motorway
If you buy a house next to a motorway it is likely you will get used to the noise, so long as the house isn’t too close. But before you consider buying a house next to a motorway, and as already mentioned, please take a moment to also read this article about how far from a motorway can you hear it.
Other houses where noise levels are a consideration are cluster houses, also known as quarter houses. You might like to read more about why cluster houses can be noisier than semi-detached or terraced houses and is a cluster house noisy?
Consider which motorway or highway the house is next to
Also, consider the motorway the house is next to. For example a house next to the M25 motorway will be totally different to one that is next to the M5 motorway.
The M25 will be mostly start-stop traffic at certain sections and at busy times of the day, whereas the M5 will mostly be free flowing traffic, unless there’s been an accident or at busy times of the year when holiday traffic is using the road at peak travel times.
Consider the noise levels where you live before moving
You should also take account of where you currently live and the noise levels you are used to. If these are current lower and below 55dB, buying a house next to a motorway will affect you more than if you are moving out from a big city.
Consider price increases in the future
Also consider house price rises and how this will be affected by the close proximity to a motorway.
Noise pollution from motorways is increasing each year as roads get busier and busier. Also, as an example, if you purchase a house that wasn’t next to a motorway for £250,000, and house prices increase by 20% during your ownership, this house will then be worth £300,000, which is an increase of £50,000.
But a similar house next to a motorway, and assuming this is within 65dB noise levels, would be priced at £220,000 to begin with. Also, assuming decibel levels increase to 70dB during your ownership, the increased price would be £258,720 (i.e. £220,000 increased by 20%, but then discounted by a further 2%). This is an increase of £38,720 instead.
Finally, make sure the motorway issue is reflected in the price of the property. Which on a positive note, at least you may be able to buy a slightly better property for what you can afford. But always bearing in mind the value will always be slightly depressed because the house is next to a motorway.
Finally, you may also like to discover how you could save you up to £71,475 when you buy your next house if it would originally cost £350,000. Alternatively, if you propose to buy your next house for £250,000, the saving could be up to £51,852 instead.
To find out more, plus to get hold of my free mortgage savings calculator tool, please take a look at my video course about how to sell your house in under 2 weeks for more money.
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