Are speed bumps a big deal for value? That’s what a friend asked me, and since she gave me permission to share her situation with a neighbor, I hoped we could chat. If someone asked you, how would you respond?
The situation: My friend said, “We live on a busy-ish street with lots of kids walking to and from school, and neighbors are talking about requesting speed bumps to slow cars down. One neighbor who is against this says, “adding speed bumps will decrease the value of a home by 20%.” What do you think of that?”
My response: I’ve got a few things on my mind.
1) Making value claims: Whenever someone makes a value claim, my market antennas go up. What is 20% based on? Is it just an arbitrary number? Or is it based on market research? A study? Does it even seem realistic? These are questions we have to ask to have an informed conversation.
2) It’s busy already: Speed bumps are usually installed because the street is busy and has traffic issues, so there might actually already be a negative impact on value because of the busy street. To be clear I’m not saying speed bumps cannot potentially negatively impact value, but let’s not forget the busy street in the first place, which could be the bigger issue for value.
3) Crunching numbers with logic: Thinking logically is actually one of the best things we can do when having value discussions with neighbors. Sometimes we just need to step back from our ideas and start talking numbers. For instance, if homes are selling for $400,000, and your neighbor is correct about a 20% reduction in value, would these homes really sell for $320,000 if speed bumps were installed? Does that sound reasonable? Does it seem logical for buyers to make a reduction that large based on what you know about the neighborhood market? Moreover, if your neighbor listed his house for sale, would the list price be anywhere close to 20% less if there were speed bumps?
4) The noise factor: To be fair your neighbor is smart to think critically about this issue because we have to consider what speed bumps will do for traffic, the feel of the street, and noise. I recall talking with a city planner once who said neighbors would complain about a busy street and request speed bumps, but after they were installed the same neighbors would complain about the noise of the bumps when cars were speeding over them. Could noise be an issue?
Anyway, that’s how I answered my friend. If you notice, I didn’t make a specific value claim on purpose because as an appraiser I can’t just make stuff up without really supporting the value I say exists. Sorry if that’s frustrating, but for me the big takeaway here is actually how important it is to sometimes step back from our ideas and think critically about value issues. At the same time I’m hoping to open up some conversation, so I would absolutely love to hear your take.