When buying property near an International Airport, the venture includes many risks and drawbacks for prospective Buyers.
The benefits include being closer to the airport for easier commute for high frequency travelers or for airport-related employment. Additionally, some people (and / or their children) may also enjoy the entertainment of watching planes fly in and out.
For most, however, buying property near an International Airport requires identification, quantification, mitigation, calculation, and analysis of the risks and drawbacks. Below is my identification of six common risks expected when buying near an airport:
(a). Visual: when airplanes fly, they maintain a visual presence overhead including flashing lights.
(b). Noise: Planes reportedly can emit noise levels between 60 dBA to 75 dBA or higher. These noise levels will happen at continuous intervals throughout the day and less frequently at night. Note also the possibility of noise being compounded from multiple sources (i.e. multiple planes; house noise; and / or nearby highway vehicle noise occurring along with plane noise to make the overall dBA higher).
(c). Vibration: depending on proximity to the runways, when the planes land there can be minor vibrations (or rumbling) which may cause living discomfort and some long-term foundation or other structural damage.
(d). Debris: while falling debris may be quite rare, the predominance of falling debris incidents are more likely to happen in the areas within very close proximity to the take-off and landing runways. Falling debris can include pieces of ice; the airplane; and / or objects ejected from the airplane.
(e). Crashing: while plane crashes are extremely rare, the predominance of airplane crashes are more likely to happen in the areas very close to the take-off and landing runways. Crashes are of course very often catastrophic and can heavily damage structures, vehicles, objects, and people.
(f). Development Restrictions: if a property owner is intending to build a multi-storey structure or one that could otherwise potentially affect a pilot’s visibility, there will be restrictive covenants on title that outline very clear restrictions as to what height, etc. of developments are permissible.
Now that some major risks and drawbacks of buying near an International Airport are established, the next question is how should a prospective Buyer protect themselves from unacceptable risk levels? My advice: first analyze the air traffic patterns and any proposed changes to flying routes; consult a risk management specialist to quantify, calculate, and analyze the overall risk levels; consult reputable insurance companies for policy quotations to ensure continuous coverage if an event should occur; and consult a reputable lawyer for any legal advice on these various matters.
Using the Greater Edmonton Area and Edmonton International Airport as a prime example, open the links to view the following:
In particular, what prospective Buyers can learn from these documents are the following:
(1). What volume of overhead flight frequency can be expected for each property location;
(2). What magnitude (i.e. dBA) of noise levels can be expected for each property location; and
(3). What future changes are being anticipated that may modify results for (1) and (2) above.
Once (1), (2), and (3) above are known, at that point Buyers, with the consultation of a risk management specialist, can determine what overall risk exists for each of the risks (a) through (f) identified above for each buying location being considered. Factors include establishing which risks are of the greatest importance to the Buyer and what are the chances that each risk event will happen over the period of ownership at each location. Your insurance company may be willing and able to assist with statistics on the likelihood (i.e. chance) of each risk event occurring for each property. Next, risk mitigation is factored in to determine what proactive actions can be taken by the Buyer to improve the risk level (examples of risk mitigation could include: (a). willingness to use ear plugs regularly to reduce risk of noise from planes flying overhead; (b). willingness to hire a foundation specialist and structural engineer to strengthen all structures to prevent long-term damage from airplane landing vibrations; etc.) This process would be repeated for every purchase location to determine each of the overall risk levels. After establishing overall risk levels, the results are a binary series of yes or no analytical decisions to be made by the Buyer: are the overall airport risks at each potential buying location acceptable or not?
In summary: before finalizing a purchase of property in any location near an International Airport; Local Airport; Rocket Launch Pad; Military Base; etc. Buyers are advised to first identify / quantify the risks; analyze if and how each of the risks can be mitigated; and then make a final decision as to whether or not the overall risk levels will be acceptable to proceed on a purchase.
Disclaimer: for those readers not currently represented by another licensed REALTOR®, to obtain more information on this topic and / or if you are serious about selling or buying in the Greater Edmonton Area, call Kelly at 780-414-6100 (pager) or send Kelly an email to SOLD@KellyGrant.ca to schedule a confidential appointment.
[Article written and ©2017 by Kelly Grant, M.Eng., ABR, NCSO, P.Eng. - REALTOR® at MaxWell Realty in Edmonton, AB]