8 Types of Roads That Can Have a Big Impact on Home Sales

A double yellow line could kill a deal, but a cul-de-sac could bump a home's value.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |April 29, 2016, at 1:59 p.m.

8 Types of Roads That Can Have a Big Impact on Home Sales


The rule is "location, location, location" for a reason.

Street in Salem, Oregon in the fall.

(Getty Images)

A house hunter’s must-have list for a new home often includes the number of bedrooms, necessary appliance updates and maybe a garage or backyard. But one detail that's often left off is actually just outside the property lines – and it's a major deal-breaker for homebuyers. The road your house is located on, backs up to or is even in the general vicinity of can have a significant impact on your home's resale value and how long it takes for you to find a buyer. Before you buy your dream home on a busy street or near a railroad, consider how these road features can become a major turnoff for future buyers.

High-traffic road

High-traffic road

Traffic jam

(Getty Images)

Living off of a road that sees a lot of cars going back and forth throughout the day can make for a hassle getting in and out of the driveway. Plus, others generally have a lower opinion of homes located on a busy street, says Greg Hague, CEO of Real Estate Mavericks, a real estate coaching firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “If you go in most of these homes, there would be some perceptible traffic noise, but it’s not worth a home being 30 percent less – the reason is because of the perception of a home on a busy road and the difficulty selling it,” he says. It might take more time on the market and a lower asking price to entice buyers than a similar home on a quieter street.



Aerial view of residential housing development

(Getty Images)

The farther inside the neighborhood you go, the less traffic you’ll experience and the more desirable the houses typically become, explains Roberta Parker, a real estate agent for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors in Princeton, New Jersey. By only having one entrance and exit to the street, a cul-de-sac keeps traffic minimal, which is a big selling point down the line. “A cul-de-sac is your best investment,” Parker says.

Dirt road

Dirt road

Multicolored lupines grow in profusion along an unpaved road in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

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Some people prefer to get away from high-traffic counts so much that they’ll leave pavement altogether. A dirt or gravel road will certainly attract fewer cars, but any buyer considering a home on an unpaved road should factor in the hassle of everything getting dirty a lot easier and more often. “Your car gets dirty, your house gets dirty – your house gets dirty as other cars drive by,” Hague explains. While this might not be a hassle to you, consider the greater difficulty you’ll have selling the home, as many homebuyers prefer a fully paved road for convenience.

Near a traffic light

Near a traffic light

USA, New York, New York City, Green stoplight with winter trees in background

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Even if your area doesn't experience high traffic volume throughout the day, having a traffic light within eyesight of your home can be irritating for residents. Timothy Somers, a real estate appraiser and partner at the appraisal firm Davis M. Somers Co. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, lives near a traffic light. For him, it’s the noise from idling cars at the red light that can be a bit of a hassle. “It can get noisy at times – not so much the traffic, but the loud music and that sort of stuff is annoying,” he says.

Double yellow line

Double yellow line

The road surface of a Tennessee mountain road, seen from ground level.

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The property might not seem busy when you visit on the weekend. But if the home is located on a two-lane road with a double yellow line to prevent cars from passing each other – most often found in less populated suburban or rural areas – Parker says it’s a red flag that a lot of cars use the road. “A double yellow line is an indication that there is more traffic, and it’s not typical of just a neighborhood. A double yellow line is a serious road,” she says.

Highway within sight

Highway within sight

Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.

(Getty Images)

Regardless of how far you have to travel for work, a home next to an on-ramp is not ideal, for both the noise pollution and the difficulty you’ll have trying to sell it in the future. Parker says every day many residents in Princeton commute an hour up to New York City, about an hour down to Philadelphia and even farther in either direction. But any driving time saved getting to the highway likely isn't worth it. Rather than living right next to highways and on main roads, neighborhoods are set up to provide convenient access to commuting options without having to sacrifice a quieter home environment. “It’s the most ideal location in terms of major roads that you don’t have to live on, but you’re nearby for convenience,” Parker says.



Closeup of railroad tracks

(Getty Images)

With a railroad near your home you have a whole new type of car to be concerned about. Trains are loud to begin with, but they’ll often create more noise coming out of tunnels or into stations to ensure the track is clear. “Some people would shy away from a location like that. … When a freight train rolls through it clanks, and there’s horns and more noise,” Somers says. If you’re considering buying a house near a railroad, find out how often it’s used and the times of day trains will pass by – a regular midnight freight train passing through could keep you up at night in your new home.

Corner lot on the block

Corner lot on the block

House on the corner

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Attitudes toward a corner spot within a neighborhood can vary depending on an individual’s preference, but Somers says over time opinions have generally evolved into a preference for an interior lot. “Corner lots back in the ‘50s and ‘60s were a premium site. Today people will steer clear of them; they don’t like them as well,” Somers says. “Because of the yard configuration, they usually end up with a small backyard and large side yard. It’s less appealing than the standard interior lot. Plus, they’ve got twice the sidewalk to shovel.”

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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