Although noise complaints to a single-family investor are far less common than for our multi-family investor friends, a quiet neighborhood is clearly more desirable than a noisy one. While scouting a new neighborhood for potential rental properties, I visit the neighborhood repeatedly at varying times throughout the day. One thing that has become quite clear to me is that the amount of noise we live with daily has increased dramatically.

Barking dogs are nothing new – but not like this. There have been multiple news reports concerning the sheer number of new pandemic pets that are now frequenting our yards. It has become exceedingly rare for a rental applicant to not have a dog. At this point, dogs are everywhere and they love to bark at other dogs. Go outside around dusk, pay attention to how long you can actually go before you hear a dog. In as much as is possible, think about how a quiet vs. loud neighborhood impacts your investment.

As frustrating as a barking dog can be, it doesn’t compare to the viral spread of loud vehicles with deafening mufflers that apparently bring the driver some hedonistic joy. Between the oversized trucks and the wannabe race cars, every county road and city street is plagued with the never-ending reverberation of a muffler baffle. You think I’m being sarcastic? Take a stop watch and a lawn chair and listen to the sounds in your neighborhood. If you live near a busy street, you can’t go more than a few moments between competing mufflers. Do you know another animal that is irritated by the sound of those mufflers? Dogs.  

When I was a kid, the trash truck would come by once a week and three guys would jump off the back bumper to grab the bags and silently hurl them into the back of the trash truck. The whole process took about 20 seconds before they were moving on to the next house. It’s different today and the new process adds significantly to the noise pollution argument. At the crack of dawn, a vehicle that sounds like the space shuttle enters the neighborhood. One guy, the driver, pulls up to each hard plastic 64 gallon micro dumpster and grasps the sides to mechanically dump the contents into the truck. A shaking process commences that resembles the sound of dynamite, it seems to last 20 minutes before the micro dumpster is smashed to the ground and the process repeats for the next-door neighbor and the guy who lives across the street. You know I’m telling the truth here.

Leaves! Again, back in the old days, I would dispatch leaves with a rake and a trash bag. The rake was always an interesting gadget to me. I remember it mostly for how quiet it was. Today, a guy shows up with a jet engine strapped to his back and proceeds to blow the leaves onto someone else’s property. All the rakes I ever used combined did not generate the amount of noise that one of these jet packs creates the second it is engaged. Multiply that noise by the number of those in use at any one time and you have yourself a noise pandemic.

Noise pollution is real. Landlords are likely more sensitive to it than others because we have learned to associate silence with good tenants and noise with problematic ones. We are always noticing the subtle changes that influence property values. Would anyone think it odd if we handed out earplugs at showings?

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