Woodsmoke steals property values from neighboring homeowners. That’s not just unneighborly, that’s expensive.
Imagine you’re shopping for a house, and you found one, and it is just perfectly perfect for you and your family. This house is everything you always dreamed of, and it even glows with fabulous curb appeal. BUT WAIT, this house is just shrouded by smoke from a nearby wood burner. Still interested? NOT. You’re going to say, “Let’s look … somewhere else.” If it were you, would you ever come back to take another look at the house? Me neither.
Now, imagine you’re the homeowner trying to sell a lovely but smoke-shrouded home. A reasonable buyer would look … somewhere else. Do you think if you, as the seller, sweeten the deal by hiring a crew for a kitchen remodel or to pave the driveway that buyer will be back? What are the chances? Not likely.
Alaska law (AS 34.70) protects potential home buyers by requiring sellers to disclose known problems to buyers (before the potential buyer makes an offer). If the problem is not disclosed, damages can be up to three times the actual damages (AS 34.70.090). So, even if the homeowner is selling the house in the summer, whether using a realtor or not, winter smoke emissions from nearby wood burners must be disclosed to potential buyers. That’s a real deal killer.
Plus, sellers usually want to sell their home sooner, rather than later. What if your child has developed asthma and your doctor has recommended that you relocate. You need to go, before winter for sure. Having your home on the market unsold for longer because a buyer can’t be found turns your house into an illiquid investment, adding additional expenses to be borne by you when your family can least afford it.
The news of Fairbanks’ smoky air pollution is becoming notorious, whether on USA Today (“entombed in a shroud of pollution”) or the American Lung Association (“F” grade). Property values in the the borough’s most smoke-impacted neighborhoods may have already been brought down by excessive wood and coal smoke. This impact of smoke on certain neighborhoods would be especially dramatic in comparison to an overall rise in home sales in Fairbanks, according to “Home sales way up in Fairbanks, Alaska” in USA Today, 2/2/2010.
Businesses and families considering relocating to Fairbanks neighborhoods take the recognized air quality problems into account, and look… somewhere else if they can. Families have moved away to protect their children from dangerous smoke. What will it take to make clean air a priority for existing residents and homeowners?