Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

Living next to train tracks and cemeteries can save homebuyers money

Some real estate features have never been loved. A location near railroad tracks, an airport, cemetery or even a school.

However, if you don't mind the noise, these "undesirable" features can save you a bundle when buying a home. Robert Mines Jr., a real estate appraiser based in Cartersville, has a few tips in that area.

[Read more: Ouch! 5 home features that hurt your home's resale value most, according to an Atlanta realtor]

He's appraised residential real estate in Georgia for 21 years and has learned which negative features drop a home's price.

"Location and condition are always the most compelling factors that control price in real estate sales," he said. "Living next to railways, airports or factories that are very loud and high-traffic areas will adversely affect the marketability of property."

Mines completed a study of subdivisions and determined that homes along a railway were worth 17–20 percent less compared to similar properties near the front of a subdivision. Homes across the street from the rails lost 10–15 percent of their value in comparison.

According to Mines, a cemetery neighbor might also drive a house's value down, though less than 10 percent.

[Read more: Three hot neighborhoods for buying homes in metro Atlanta]

While buyers should always be on the look out for such bargaining chips, Mines warns that some seemingly negative factors might not impact the final price of a home.

"One example of that is that even though a factory near a residential area can at times produce a foul smell similar to rotten eggs, people seem to come to accept it over the years," he said.

Mines said he grew up in an area like that and remembers home values were not affected by proximity to a smelly factory, even within two miles of it.

In the city where he now lives, there is a development directly adjacent to the jail. Mines says the jail has not impacted nearby house prices.

He also warns buyers not to count on whoever appraised the house to factor such features into the appraisal. "Not all appraisers are familiar with a certain area," said Mines. "The problem that we have now is that mortgage lenders have to use appraisers who are on a rotating list. You may get an appraiser from an area 50 miles or more away who really has no idea about the community."

Mines says the best way to make sure you know of any external factors that could influence the price is to engage a local realtor as a buyer's agent. "They can provide you with the folklore of the area," he said.

This is not the time to rely on an online real estate website alone. "Zillow, for example, has no way of knowing what kind of condition a home is in or if there are any external factors that effect the value," Mines said.

Look for discounts carefully. Some negative house features, regardless of whether they drop the house's price, shold be considered dealbreakers. "Never buy oddball homes that don't fit the neighborhood," Mines said.

He gives the example of the home for sale on Signal Mountain near Chattanooga that resembles a flying saucer. "This in no way fits the neighborhood and would be a nightmare to appraise," he said.

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