Metro Rail increases property values

From The Buffalo News

By Christopher Michel NEWS BUSINESS REPORTER
Updated: 06/09/07 7:20 AM

Homes in Buffalo located within a half-mile radius of Metro Rail stations are valued between $1,300 and $3,000 more than similar properties not within walking distance of the stations, according to a University at Buffalo study.

The study, “Impact of Proximity to Light Rail Rapid Transit on Station-area Property Values in Buffalo, New York,” was conducted by Daniel Hess, assistant professor of urban and regional planning in the UB School of Architecture and Planning.

Hess and a former student, Tangerine Almeida, began working on the study in 2003-04, when they could not find information from similar studies conducted in another Rust Belt city.

Hess and Almeida gathered assessment information on over 8,000 homes near Metro Rail stations. From there, they entered the information into their own database and included variables that also affect the value of a house, like the number of bathrooms and the surrounding neighborhoods.

After running a regression analysis, Hess and Almeida were surprised with their findings.

“We originally hypothesised there would be no relationship between property value and proximity to a Metro Rail station. The information showed us that a house’s location in proximity to a station increased between 2 and 5 percent,” Hess said.

The study found property values increased in neighborhoods surrounding the Metro Rail stations at the UB South Campus, LaSalle Street, Amherst Street, Humboldt Avenue- Sisters Hospital, Delavan Avenue- Canisius, Allen Street-Buffalo- Niagara Medical Campus and Fountain Plaza.

In addition to proximity to Metro Rail stations, home values were also influenced by the number of bathrooms, size of the land parcel and location on the east or west side of Main Street.

“Walking distance to a Metro Rail station actually placed fourth on our list of influences on a house’s assessed value,” Hess said.

Property values were found to decrease near the Utica, Summer-Best, Theater and Lafayette Square stations.

“In some areas close to Metro Rail stations, auto-oriented enterprises, like restaurants with drive-through windows and car washes, as well as things like liquor stores had a negative effect on the values of houses. These variables reduce the appeal to pedestrians to walk to the rail station,” Hess said.

Richard W. Bronstein, president of Western New York Metro Realty and a state certified general real estate appraiser, said a home’s value can suffer if it is too close to a station.

“I’ve been in the real estate business for 48 years now, and properties near rapid transit stations generally do not sell,” said Bronstein. “People want to live within walking distance to transportation, but no one wants to deal with the vibrations the metro train produces.”

Bronstein said in other communities, being close to a subway station would have an effect on commercial properties. “In those cases, foot traffic in commercial areas can be marketed.”

“Whether or not a property near a rapid transit station is really worth more is a matter of opinion. Value in being within a close proximity to a rapid transit station is only for those who work in downtown Buffalo,” Bronstein said.

Hess said his study contains a lot of good news for the region and its light rail system.

“This effect comes from a relatively short rail system that could have great effects if expanded,” Hess said.

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