According to a report by King 5’s Heather Graf, the new trend for Seattle homeowners is the option to purchase “air rights” in an effort to keep potential new neighbors from destroying views with second stories or obstructive structures that would diminish the property values for other residents. For nine years, homeowners Nina and Georg Pedersen, rented out the home next door to theirs. In January, they decided to sell the home, but retain the air rights above it.
According to real estate appraiser Richard Hagar, the battle over “air rights” is heating up in neighborhoods like Magnolia and Blue Ridge in Seattle, along with Somerset in Bellevue. “It’s becoming more common because we’re getting higher and higher population density,” he said. “People can’t spread out and make big ranch-style houses anymore. So as our population increases, we squeeze upwards.”
Hagar’s advice to homeowners hoping to preserve their view is to start by having a civil, friendly conversation with your neighbor. If that doesn’t work, consult an appraiser to determine a fair value for the air space. “It’s a difficult thing, and it’s unique everywhere,” he said.
Depending upon the view and area, “air rights” could fetch a significant price tag for those willing to pay for it. The Pedersen’s paid $100,000 for the “air rights” above the home they sold next door, but feel that it was worth every penny. “It’s a separate deed where we literally own the air above this house,” Nina said. “You’ve got to be able to plan ahead and really jump at it when the opportunity comes, and be willing to pay for it.”
Graf, H. (2013, June 13, 2013). More Seattle homeowners buying ‘air rights’ . King 5 News