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Air Pollution & Real Estate: Another Challenge When Buying/Selling a Property

Picture of Ran Korber
By Ran Korber on July, 8 2014
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A newlywed couple is filled with joy and excitement after buying their new home. However, shortly after moving in, the couple discovers hidden issues (basement flooding, mold, etc.). By the time these malfunctions are corrected, the couple isn’t too happy about their housing situation anymore. 

Unfortunately, many stories like these are aired on the news each day. Buying a house is one of the biggest financial investments most people will make in their life and the real estate industry is competitive and unpredictable. Although finding a home can be an exciting process, it presents many challenges.

 

  • The average individual will move 11.7 times during his or her lifetime (HomeInsight).
  • According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of a total U.S. population of 282,556,000 million people, some 40 million move each year. That's approximately 14 percent annually.
  • Relocation ranks as the third most stressful life event, behind death of a loved one and divorce (HomeInsight).
  • As the economy continues to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with historically low interest rates, it is reasonable to assume that the housing market will see increased activity in the near future.

What do Buyers Look For in a Home?

I recently conducted a survey with the goal of finding out what people consider the most when searching for a house. The results revealed the following three factors that were of most importance:

1)    Selling price: 100% of the participants of the survey stated that selling price was important to them. Buyers want to get the most ‘bang for their buck’, especially in the current sluggish global economy. Additionally, buyers want to invest in a house that has the potential to appreciate in value over the next 5-10 years, resulting in an exit profit.

2)    Location: 95% of the participants of the survey mentioned the importance of location. Because location is such a broad topic, surveyors were asked to explain what about location was so important to them. The majority of responses mentioned the school district, tax rates, and crime rates in the community that the house was located at.

3)    Entertainment: 80% of participants from the survey mentioned entertainment. People want a home that offers entertainment in the form of a basement, a pool, an exercise room, a big backyard, and a movie room.

Air pollution: A hidden enemy in the Real Estate World

Although most of the results that the survey revealed were predictable, I was shocked that air pollution was not one of the top 3 factors considered when buying a house. 

Among all environmental issues out there, air pollution seems like the most relevant for real estate, with its ability to damage human lives having been scientifically proven.

 

  • The World Health Organization estimates that outdoor air pollution caused 3.7 million premature deaths globally in 2012.
  • In 2012 some 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure, making it the world’s biggest killer (WHO, 2013). 

With these statistics in mind, I am hopeful that air pollution will become one of the biggest factors in finding the right home within the next decade. You may be wondering how you will be able to track historical air pollution levels for a home you are interested in. 

More and more real estate agencies are including air pollution information in their reports: it's a win win process, as you get useful information on the houses you're considering, while the agency or real estate listing gets a better chance to close a deal with you. Real estate company can develop customized air pollution reports for specific locations using BreezoMeter API. 

Alternatively, the BreezoMeter app that recently launched in Israel is transforming how the world tackles air pollution and allowing you to search any address and find precise air quality information. 

I currently study real estate at the Brandeis University International Business School. While all of my professors bring diverse perspectives to the table, they all make an arduous attempt to engrave one specific concept into our brains; the importance of location.

With the strong correlation between air quality and geographic coordinates, location is even more important than you may think. I like to compare air pollution to bugs. If you were infested by millions of bugs each time you walked into the backyard of your home, would you still want to host BBQs?
Well, if you were surrounded by toxic air each time you walked into the backyard, I don’t think you would be enticed to host BBQ parties either.

Keep breathing fresh,

Matthew Zuckerman 

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