How Local Air Quality Affects the Value of Your Home

Eric Stewart May 17, 2018

Last week we talked about sustainability and potential ecological upgrades for your home that could increase its value. This week we hit a related topic – the air quality outside of your home.

air quality

Approximately 40 million people move in the U.S. each year. Though many aren’t thinking about outdoor air quality when targeting a place to live, about half of us are regularly exposed to dangerous air pollution that can make us sick.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 4.2M deaths a year caused by outdoor air pollution and 9 out of 10 people worldwide are regularly breathing highly polluted air. This is something we can’t ignore; the air quality where you live matters, especially if you are 65 or older, have young children, work outdoors, or have certain illnesses that make you more susceptible to air pollution, like asthma or heart disease.

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You’ve probably heard of the Federal Clean Air Act of 1963 to regulate levels of pollution, but you may not know that its standards vary by county. Various tools have emerged allowing you to compare the air quality of different counties, such as the EPA’s AirCompare or the app BreezoMeter, indicating that people are becoming more aware of the importance of this aspect of where they live.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, housing markets where clean air standards are more strictly regulated also enjoy higher property values. So where do we stand?

city pollutionCalifornia has long had the worst air of any state, due in part to wildfires and drought. Locally, the DMV has improved our air quality over the last 20 years, employing practices such as reducing vehicle emissions, using lower-fume paint, and regulating businesses like dry cleaners. However, we still don’t meet WHO’s standards for high quality air; our government has a goal for 2020 of meeting “attainment” status, meaning we remain consistently below the standards for high air pollution levels.

One obstacle, at least in Maryland, is a number of power plants in neighboring states whose emissions are affecting our air quality, making it nearly impossible for us to attain and maintain high quality air. In November 2016 Maryland filed a petition for the EPA to require those power plants to reduce emissions, including evidence that the plants have stopped effectively utilizing their pollution controls. In September 2017, this escalated into a lawsuit initiated by Maryland against the EPA for failing to act on the petition.

Home buyers are clearly becoming more educated about what makes a home a quality place to live. Just as they will often look at the crime rate of an area before purchasing there, it may soon become the norm to look at pollution rates.

The Eric Stewart Group recognizes the relevance of this issue to your home’s market value and is happy to meet with you to discuss what you can do to sell for top dollar. If you’re interested in having this discussion, consider registering for one of our speaking engagements by clicking the link below.

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