Nice Neighborhood - If You Don't Mind the Noise

Real Estate Agent with The Buyers' Counsel

Railroad trackHomebuyers these days have some useful tools at their disposal to help them determine which homes they may or may not be interested in viewing. 

With Google Maps, for example, you can visibly detect some important nuances of a neighborhood that could possibly spell noise trouble. 

Among the most blatant of these is the ominous appearance of railroad tracks. While the convenience of living near the train is a consideration, it needs to be measured against the effect it could have when roaring by your back yard in the middle of the night.

Another important red flag, particularly here in the Metrowest area, is the proximity of busy highways to some otherwise appealing subdivisions.  Look closely at a map and you will see a number of instances in Hopkinton, Southborough and even a small portion of Ashland where some very attractive neighborhoods are bumping right up to major freeways. 

The term "Commuters' Dream" can turn into a homeowner's nightmare rather quickly. And in a down market, these types of properties are not an easy sell. 

If your plans are to move into the Bedford area near Route 128, you need to take special note of the jets flying overhead at Handscom Field. You may want to avoid being in their direct flight path.

Of course, some noise levels are relative to exactly where the person is coming from. I have had clients who are moving from New York City who think that highway, train and other transportation noises are non-issues since it they are only periodic rather than the constant levels they have endured. 

When you settle into a suburban lifestyle you begin to hear other sounds that to someBird may be considered noise, but to many of us they are equal to lullabies. While the chirping of birds is melodic and comforting, the thrashing of a woodpecker or the hooting of an owl can definitely keep you up at night.  

Then there is my least favorite suburban noise, the perpetually barking dog.  So very useful are these canines in guarding a home - but at least with an ADT alarm you can shut it down when it goes off. 

In the more bucolic areas you hear the croaking of the toads; but not so much of that in the greater Metrowest where we have a pleasant mixture of slight road traffic, the sound of children playing and a constant symphony of nature's tones.

Before you settle on a particular neighborhood check the maps, the proximity to local transportation routes and do a thorough drive through of the area.

And, keep in mind - what is music to one set of ears may actually be noise to another. 


Copyright 2011 "Nice Neighborhood - If Your Don't Mind the Noise"

This post was written by 

Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner, The Buyers' Counsel - (508) 881-6230

An Exclusive Buyer Brokerage serving the Greater Metrowest area

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Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is a great post and one that buyers should be aware of.  It is so true that what is music to one set of ears may actually be noise to another.  We asked a seller how often the planes flew over his house near the Manchester Airport.  The Sellers Reported only about 5-10 flights per day.  It turned it it was 133!

Apr 05, 2011 03:34 PM #1
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Claudette... I bought a home near the railroad tracks about 10 years ago and it never occurred to me that trains would be coming through during the night and blowing their horns.  I wish I had Google Maps back then!

Apr 05, 2011 04:18 PM #2
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Check the maps and check with your Realtor.  Don't be afraid to ask, "Why wouldn't you buy this house?"

Apr 05, 2011 05:25 PM #3
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

Funny that you should post this today. I had a Chicago (city) buyer our here in the burbs this weekend. What they consider "not too noisy" is very different from what I would judge otherwise. Some people just are less sensitive to noise? Oh well, all we can do is point at the train tracks and encourage them to check the schedules.

Apr 05, 2011 07:09 PM #4
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


I don't think I could take planes flying overhead - especially 133 a day.


It's amazing to think that we actually lived without Google at one time.  I hope the trains aren't bothering you too much.


That is an important question to ask before buying.


Some people actually do not mind being close to a train but we certainly need to point it out to them and let them make that decision for themselves.  I would be pretty sensitive about it.


Apr 06, 2011 12:10 AM #5
Scott Hayes
(512) 786-8300 - Austin, TX
Realty Austin, Broker Associate



Interesting subject for a post. Buyers have some great tools at their disposal, but some of them can be overkill. But Google maps is a very smart, useful way to get to know a neighborhood, before you even make it to the listing

Apr 11, 2011 04:19 PM #6
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Hun... - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Claudette, I really like the Google Maps feature.  I've used it so much in the past to check out a neighborhood...especially property in the's a great time saver and shows the buyer what they can expect with regard to railroads, commercial properties etc.  Other than that buyers need to spend time in the neighborhood at different times of the day...ahhh...the incessant barking dog...kind of hard to catch him on Google maps.

May 09, 2011 01:11 PM #7
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Claudette Millette

Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass
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