Federal, state and local wetlands protection laws that restrict
landowners' ability to develop their properties in certain
ways could decrease the value of the affected properties.
However, the regulations could also give benefits to nearby
neighbors, who no longer need to worry about increased development
in their area. Given that some properties may decline in value
while others increase, the impact on individual properties
must be determined empirically.
This study uses a data set from Newton, Massachusetts, to examine the impact of wetlands laws on the regulated properties as well as on proximate properties. Looking at house sales data from 1988 through 2005, the hedonic technique is used to estimate the effect of wetlands regulations on single-family home prices and finds that having wetlands on a property decreases its value by 4 percent relative to non-regulated properties. Homes that are contiguous to regulated houses do not experience any change in price. Thus, it seems unlikely that neighbors are receiving any benefit from knowing that further development is restricted in their immediate vicinity.
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