I know there is going to be a new highway built behind my house, am I obligated to tell potential buyers about this when I sell the house?
The question about whether or not to disclose information about possible or planned new road development that is close to homes is becoming more common as we grow. In the greater Triangle area, there are lots of new roads and bypasses being planned, with just as many in the building stage.
New road development serves the general population well. New roads mean less traffic congestion and more travel options. The Triangle is a high growth area, and all the new residents bring their cars with them when they move. As long as the population stays stable or continues to grow, road development will be a necessity. It will also become more common that your home or your neighborhood might be affected by this new road construction.
People who are buying homes in Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner or Raleigh are very aware that new roads are being developed. Many people are anxiously awaiting the opening of these roads as it will cut commute times or give them other options to avoid gridlock. Some homeowners, however, are genuinely worried about how the proximity to these roads will affect their home value when it comes time to sell.
How does the Department of Transportation help homeowners?
In general, having a home close to a highway is not ideal as it can cause an increase in noise and pollution. Realizing this, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) takes time to review the impact of the road before they start construction.
When the DOT plans new roads they figure out how the road will impact the population and the environment. They endeavor to create roads that are a distance from homes. If there is no way to do this they will install noise barriers between the property and the road. However, if a home is in the direct path or directly adjacent to the road, the town or the state may purchase the home through eminent domain.
A real-life example of road development and how it affected the sale of a home:
Last year, we sold a home that was going to back up to a new highway, in this case, it was the upcoming portion of I-540. We researched the road development information to find out as much detail as possible. We wanted to make sure that we were up to date on information when prospective buyers and their agents asked questions. Our goal was to make sure we shared everything up front so that the buyers were aware that they were purchasing a home that will be close to the new highway.
Everyone who visited the house asked about the highway. Every prospective buyer received all the information we had gathered. We also shared the name and contact number for the planning department at the Department of Transportation (DOT) so they could get any other questions answered.
Buyers were able to take the information we provided and verify it with the DOT. They could also walk the land to see exactly where the new road would be. This helped them to visualize the road and consider how that would affect their lifestyle.
How this one buyer decided:
The house sold for list price in a short time and there were multiple offers! The buyer who eventually won the bidding war had figured out that the close proximity to the highway will also reduce their commute time significantly!
The buyer’s agent told us that this buyer decided to purchase because they knew they were getting a great house and because they also knew all the facts about the road. All of the buyer’s concerns had been addressed.
These new owners were confident that the location, the neighborhood, the schools, and the other amenities would more than compensate for some increase in noise. They were also looking forward to having significantly reduced commute times when the road eventually showed up.
Why you should disclose close proximity to the road:
It may not affect your value after all:
Proximity to a road will not make your home unsellable in most cases. It may decrease the value some, but not necessarily. Obviously, it didn’t affect the value of the home we sold.
They already know about the road:
It is never a good idea to hide issues. Realistically, you probably can’t hide it anyway. You are not the only one who knows. Your agent will undoubtedly already know about road development. The buyer’s agents who take their clients to look at the property will also be knowledgeable about the new road. More than likely, prospective buyers will also know about the upcoming development too. Some buyers may actually be searching in the area because the road is planned. These days access to information is easy so hiding facts would be futile.
There’s legal trouble if you fail to disclose:
If you know about the new road development but do not disclose that fact you risk getting sued for non-disclosure. If the real estate agent fails to disclose the upcoming road development they risk losing their license. It is illegal for an agent to withhold “material fact” information. (A material fact is basically something that a buyer should be aware of before purchasing a home).
It’s ethically responsible to disclose the road development
Sometimes it helps to question how you would feel if you were the buyer in a situation where something like road construction was hidden.
Would you want to know about close proximity to a new road if you were considering a new property? Of course, you would, I think all of us would. We make good decisions when we have all the facts in hand.
Also, consider how you would feel if you found out after you had already gone under contract. Would you be suspicious of the sellers and their agent?
I know I would. Personally, I would pull my offer if I learned they had withheld information this major until after I had already come to an agreement with them. If you are like me you have learned that it never pays to do business with dishonest people, and omitting this type of important information is definitely dishonest.
Ask your agent if you have disclosure questions:
Sometimes people have questions about disclosures. If you don’t sell homes regularly you may not even think of disclosure issues until you’re ready to move. If you have any questions about what to disclose when you sell, talk with your real estate agent or a real estate attorney. They can help you make good decisions about what is expected.
As usual, being honest is always the way to go. Honesty allows everyone to make smart decisions. More importantly, it allows us to sleep well at night.
Are you thinking of selling your home?
When it’s time to sell your Triangle area home give Triangle Trusted Realty, Inc. a call. We understand what Triangle buyers are looking for, we’re great with marketing and we pride ourselves on being responsive and helpful.
You can learn more about the company by checking out our website at www.TriangleTrusted.com, email us at info@TriangleTrusted.com and of course, you’re welcome to call us at (919) 481-4914 or fill out the attached contact form and we’ll reach out to you.