The National Association of Reversionary Property Owners (a non-profit, tax exempt foundation) funded a comprehensive, 35 year study on homes surrounding the Burke-Gilman Trail, a bike path in the Seattle area which was completed in 1978. The study uses the 1980-81 assessment values as taken from the King County Assessor’s microfilm. The 1980-81 assessment values were the first available in the Assessor’s two year valuation cycle after the trail was finally completed. The 1988 assessment values come from the Assessor’s microfilm records also. The 1997 assessment values come from the Assessor’s in-house computer which carries the last four years of a property’s value. The values used in the study are only the land value portion of the total property assessment and do not include any value for improvements (homes, buildings, personal property).
As shown in the graph, houses closer to the trail did not increase in value at the same rate as other properties in the community. The closer a home was to the trail (which was noted to have higher rates of theft and vandalism than other areas), the less its value was likely to increase compared to other homes in the area. In fact, over an 18 year period, homes closest to the trail increased in price by 250%; compare that to all homes within the county, whose prices increased by almost 900%.
NARPO isn’t the only organization to look into decreased sale prices of abutting homes. A decrease was also noted in an article from the May 2005 edition of the Journal of Land Economics: “A trail within 200 feet of a property is estimated to decrease its sale price by 5.54%. The trail variable may be capturing the negative externalities associated with noise and congestion resulting from proximity to a trail…”