Negative Environmental Influences in Real Estate

We’ve all heard the saying that when buying real estate it’s about location-location-location.  Houses in some towns have higher predominant values than others, the same with some neighborhoods, but what I’m talking about is more specific: negative environmental influences.

An appraiser looks at surrounding lots to determine the uses and influences that would affect the subject property.  It could be a positive influence like conservation land or a park.  In many cases there can be negative influences such as commercial or industrial businesses, high-tension power lines, or even contaminated or Superfund sites.

What is a Superfund site?  It’s a site where toxic waste has  been dumped and the Environmental Protection Agency has designated the site to be cleaned up.  Typically the area has restricted access and is fenced in.

A more detailed explanation on the differences between a Superfund site and a Brownfield site can be found on this post:

The typical buyer wouldn’t know how to begin a search on site influences other than what they see driving by.  Would your typical real estate agent know this information?  If they know, they should be disclosing it to you, but they don’t always know.   The appraiser would be reporting site influences in the appraisal report…you need to read that report thoroughly.  Unfortunately, by the time you get a copy of the appraisal you will be near your closing date, or worse, you find out after you move in!  In many cases these sites have been cleaned up, but it could affect the marketability long-term.

Whether it be buying a house, stocks, or even a Doctor’s diagnosis, you need to be your own advocate.  Do your own due-diligence.  Research, research, research…takes time and practice but the more you do it the better you get.  I happen to do it for a living, and my endless curiosity pushes me to take extra steps in researching a property…be it for an appraisal or a client.

The reason for this post is because I did an appraisal on such a property in Nashua, NH.   The state owns the property behind this lot, the tax records do NOT indicate it’s a Superfund site, but town has the owner as the State of NH, Dept of Environmental Services.  Hmmm, so I went on the EPA site and found out it indeed is a contaminated brownfield.

contaminated site in Nashua NH

A well labeled site in the picture to the left is very obvious.  The Mohawk Tannery Site is located in a neighborhood close to downtown Nashua and adjacent to the Nashua river. 

The EPA defines a brownfield site as: “the redevelopment or reuse which may be complicated by the presence, or potential presence, of a hazardous substance…”


Check it out to see what’s near you. EPA website:

Just my thoughts.  Jennifer Cote- Everything Real Estate

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How skewed can the market data be?

Every market has submarkets, so when you watch the news about double digit declines- it’s all the markets combined. A cookie-cutter subdivision with a price point of $350,000 and up may show a larger decline than an entry-level subdivision. A contemporary home on a lake may show no decline. Bank-owned properties would most likely show the largest decline. All this within the same timeframe/market. They are examples of submarkets…move-up (mid level), entry level, standard cookie cutter, vacation, lake front, bank-owned, or unique style properties. So depending on what submarkets posted the most sales it would skew the overall market data. Knowing this you can now postulate that these huge declines are due, in part, from most sales being bank-owned or entry-level in the past 6 months so it is a false representation of the market.

-Just my thoughts.

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