Buying a House on a Main Road or Busy Road

Every First Time Buyer will face a dilemma of whether buying a house on a main road is an acceptable trade-off. Should you consider buying a house on a busy road if it ticks all your boxes and the price is good?

If you are considering purchasing your first home on a main road, you should definitely spend some time to consider whether you can accept the trade-offs for the benefits. We explore this in four sections below:

Pros and cons of living on a main road

Many first-time buyers completely dismiss buying a house on a main road. While the main downsides are well known, there are some potential benefits from buying a house on a main road, especially when looking to the future.

Pros of buying a house on a main road:

  • Less competition for the property, as many buyers immediately dismiss it before viewing.
  • Able to get it for a good price, as there is less competition and the fact that it is on a main road. You should aim to get buy it for at least 15% less than equivalent houses on nearby quieter streets, and ideally 20-40% less depending on how busy the road is.
  • Personal safety at night. If you often come home late at night or walk alone, a main road is much safer than quiet and dark residential roads.
  • Convenience for local amenities. Shops, restaurants, and pubs are often just a few doors down on a main road, rather than a potentially long walk from a residential road.
  • Quicker commute, as bus stops and train stations are usually located on main roads. This could widen the choices for optimal home locations to live based on commute.
  • Future desirability. While main roads currently have higher levels of noise and pollution, this will change in the next decade. When all cars become electric and self-driving, they will emit no air pollution, and electric motors run much quieter. Even living in front of a 24 hour bus stop will be palatable as electric buses will be virtually silent!

Cons of buying a house on a main road:

  • Noise from cars, buses, trucks, pedestrians, and businesses
  • Pollution, both noise and smells
  • Having to keep windows shut during hot summer months, related to the two points above
  • Increased dust and dirt, leading to more cleaning at home
  • Lack of privacy, as it will be easy for passers-by to look into your home
  • Increased risk of anti-social behaviour near your property
  • Risk of future major developments nearby, such as apartment blocks or offices. Much less likely to happen on residential roads
  • Usually a lack of free on-street parking, either for yourself or for guests visiting you
  • Struggle when it comes time to sell. Buying a house on a main road will mean a struggle to sell when you want to move on – either having to take a discount or taking longer to sell

Living near a busy road, how annoying is it?

It depends as everyone has a different tolerance for the downsides of buying a house on a main street: noise, pollution, privacy, and anti-social behaviour. It also depends on the layout of the property. If the house is set back a good 5 to 10 meters away from the road, and with a good tall hedge as well as adequate double glazing and sound insulation, then living on a busy road can be less annoying than you think.

Buying a house on a busy road can be a hidden gem as many buyers automatically dismiss it before even looking at the property details or going for a viewing. However, a house with the right mitigating features can mean living on a main road is not much different from a residential road.

Looking ahead, with the rise of electric and self-driving cars, many of the downsides of buying a house on a busy road will disappear in the next 10 years!

Does road noise affect house price?

Yes, it definitely does. At First Time Buyer Help, we often find that buying a house on a main road can result in some good discounts. Typically, we find that road noise affects house price by about 10-20%, and in some cases up to 40% on very busy roads like motorways or dual carriageways.

There are two key factors to how much discount you can get: the amount of road noise of course is the first. The second is your negotiation skill, as there is often very little demand from buyers for buying a house on a main road, so it is possible to get a deep discount if the seller needs to sell. Negotiating price on a house is awkward for most First Time Buyers though, so this is something to consider if you do not want to do negotiating on your first home purchase.

It is not just noise to consider, but also pollution and other factors, that we list out in the pros and cons of living on a house on a main road.

How much does a busy street affect resale value?

This depends on many factors, such as noise, pollution, privacy, and the surroundings. At First Time Buyer Help, we have seen house price discounts as little as 5%, and as much as 40%. Typically, we see discounts on the resale value of the property of around 10-20%. Therefore, it is vital if you a buying a house on a main road, to secure a good discount on the purchase, as you can bet that when you sell, you’ll need to give a discount on the resale value to your buyers.

However, we expect resale value of houses on busy streets to rapidly increase in the next decade. This is because the transition to electric cars and buses will massively reduce the amount of noise and pollution on a busy street.

pollution is a consideration when buying a house near a main road
Can you accept the trade-off of greater CO2 pollution when buying a house on a main road?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We often get asked at First Time Buyer Help for advice and guidance for buying a house on a main road. The above sections cover off the main considerations you should bear in mind. We also thought we should publish a list of FAQs, of the top asked questions around buying property on busy roads.

Is it bad to buy a house on a Main Road?

Yes, there are trade-offs when buying a house on a main road instead of a quiet residential road. However, many people happily live in houses on a main road, it depends on what you can accept in terms of trade-off for a cheaper price and the convenience.

The main downsides to buying a house on a main road are noise, pollution, privacy, and parking. However, there are some upsides, including a cheaper price, personal security at night, convenience for amenities and transport, and potential increase in value when electric cars become the norm.

Is it bad to buy a house on a Busy Road?

There are different degrees of busy on a road; not all busy roads are the same. A busy road might be acceptable if there are no large vehicles like buses, lorries, and trucks that are allowed through. Likewise, if the average speed on the road is low (20mph or less), there will be less noise from engines, tyres, and speed bumps of vehicles passing through. Finally, do not forget shops and businesses – they can often generate lots of noise, light pollution, and smell pollution too – if they are too close to the property.

Finally, a busy road might not be bad if it is only busy when you are out of the house. For example, a house on a busy road because of a nearby school, will be acceptable if you are normally out of the house during the key drop-off and pick-up times. Likewise for houses near shops – if you are out of the house during working hours then you might not notice the extra noise and traffic at all.

How can you reduce noise when living on a busy street?

If you do decide to consider buying a house on a busy street, there are a few things you want to check to see if you can mitigate the noise from the street.

The first is distance – a house that is set far back from the street will get less noise. At least 5 to 10 meters is ideal. Distance helps to dampen sounds.

The second is having noise barriers between the house and the road. Is there an existing tall hedge, or thick fence or wall?

Third is adequate sound insulation. The walls facing the road should be thick. The windows should be double glazed at least, if not triple glazed. There should be adequate ventilation for the rooms that do not depend on having to open the windows.

Fourth, the layout of the house should be that the bedrooms are not facing the busy street, but in another direction instead. Common areas like the kitchen, utility room, and bathrooms are ideal to be at the front of the house facing the busy street.

What is considered a busy road?

There is no fixed definition, but a useful classification of how busy roads are is to use the UK Government’s road classification. There are A Roads, B Roads, Classified Roads, and Unclassified Roads.

Typically, most buyers would avoid any roads in the A Road or B Road classification. A Roads are ones where there is a lot of through traffic in an area – and will be very busy during normal working hours. They are typically wide roads, at least 2 or 3 lanes, with speed limits of 40mph or higher.

The best roads are ones that are unclassified – they make up 60% of all roads. Typical residential roads would fall under unclassified.

How do you know what is the classification of the road you are looking to buy a property? There is no central database unfortunately, and you have to look up the road maps on your local council’s website.

How busy a road is will be subjective too to your circumstances – how many cars per hour on your road makes it a busy road? Will having a bus route, even if its infrequent, make it a busy road in your mind? What about roads that trucks and high goods vehicles (HGVs) can travel down?

Is it unhealthy to live near a busy road?

Yes, living near a busy road increases the amount of pollutants in the air. Specifically, busy roads increase the concentration of SO2, NO2, and fine particulates (as measured by PM2.5 and PM10).

These particulates have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other ailments. However, there are ways to mitigate this – for example making your home draughtproof, using high quality air filtration devices at home, and erecting physical barriers between the house and the busy road (eg tall hedges).

Unfortunately, there is no easy central database to look up the pollution readings for a particular road. Some busy roads will have air pollution monitoring stations, and the readings will be accessible on the local council’s or city’s website.

However, the positive news is that over the next two decades, as electric vehicles replace petrol and diesel vehicles, the amount of pollution on busy roads in the UK will decrease substantially.

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