Measuring the Impact of Light Rail Systems on Single Family Home Values: A Hedonic Approach with GIS Application
In theory, proximity to a light rail (LRT) may have two different effects on residential property values. On the one hand, accessibility (proximity to the LRT stations) may increase property values. On the other hand, nuisance effects (proximity to the LRT line and stations) may decrease property values. Existing empirical studies are inconclusive, and failure to separate the effects of accessibility from the nuisance effects may explain some of the ambiguity. This paper examines the impact of the light-rail system (MAX) in Portland, Oregon, on single-family home values using distance to rail stations as a proxy for accessibility and distance to the line itself as a proxy for nuisance effects. Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques are employed to create spatial-related variables and merge data from various sources. The study results confirm our hypothesis that the light rail has both a positive effect (accessibility effect) and a negative effect (nuisance effect) on single-family home values. The positive effect dominates the negative effect, which implies a declining price gradient as one moves away from LRT stations for several hundred meters. Without controlling for the nuisance effect of the distance to the rail line, the estimated coefficients on distance from stations appear to be biased and would underestimate the accessibility effect. The finding of an independent nuisance effect suggests that previous hedonic models may have reached contradictory results because the nuisance effect differs with different types of rail or other local characteristics.