Posted On: 08/12/2020

If a tree falls in a forest, but no one is there to hear it, does it still make a noise?

Recent homebuyers irked by the creaking footsteps of their condo neighbor or the rumbling of trains would answer that question with a resounding “yes.”

“People have different reactions to sounds,” says Bonnie Schnitta, founder of SoundSense, an acoustics consulting firm. She suggests buyers consider their tolerance for various noises and investigate whether a home will pose a problem.

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With many buyers now limiting physical visits, researching noise is especially problematic, since sampling sounds at a home at different times is optimum, notes Schnitta.

Here, real estate professionals share tips to discern disturbing sounds even if you’re not around to hear them:

Condos built with concrete between floors - reasonably typical for buildings constructed since the 1950’s –keep noises from upstairs neighbors to a minimum, notes James McGrath, co-founder of real estate brokerage Yoreevo.

Caleb Liu, the owner of House Simply Sold, likes the new feature at Realtor.com, where viewers of specific properties can click a button for ‘noise’ to get a reading on highway and road traffic. {On the realtor.com mobile app, you’ll see the feature under the ‘options’ button.} Another site, flightradar24.com, “Can show if your home will be directly below a flight plan,” says Ashley Baskin, real estate agent and advisory board member for HomeLife Digest.

Cruise the neighborhood in your car, especially Friday and Saturday night around 10 PM, Liu suggests, since that’s when boisterous gatherings tend to occur.

When inside a home, “put a noise source [like music from a smartphone] at the level of someone talking,” suggests Schnitta.

“If you can hear the music, then the wall is not ideal for a bedroom.”

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