Listen for the sounds of silence…

Most homebuyers keep their eyes peeled when house hunting and are quick to spot visible problems.

But many forget to also listen carefully, says Harcourts Africa CEO Martin Schultheiss. “While it is vital to pay close attention to potential structural problems and signs of neglect in any property you plan to buy, keeping your ears tuned to noise levels should play an equally important part in your decision-making.

“Noise nuisance can severely limit one’s enjoyment of the biggest investment most people are likely to make, and may even lead to medical problems such as stress,” he explains.

And sometimes just listening during a home viewing may not be enough. “Viewing a property on a quiet weekend day may not prepare you for the constant – and potentially very irritating – traffic noise coming from a nearby main route on a weekday.

“Equally, nature lovers may enjoy the sight of a nearby body of water and look forward to watching the sun set over the water after a hard day’s work – but be totally unprepared for the noise when hundreds of raucous hadedas fly in to their roosts or loud boats with outboard engines shatter the peace early on a weekend morning.”

He says tolerance to noise will obviously vary and that potential buyers should consider what different members of their own families will find acceptable. “For instance, babies and young toddlers may very well find sleep difficult if a nearby restaurant plays loud music, while teenagers may be completely oblivious to the competition to their own sound systems.

“Equally, people working nightshift may encounter sleeping problems if they buy in areas where noise levels escalate during the day, for example near a school where bells ring or there are sporting activities all afternoon.

“It is thus important for your future peace of mind to scout the surrounds of any home your are interested in for neighbours, roads or public venues that may generate unacceptable noise levels,” Schultheiss says.

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