The Journal News’ gun map highlighting the names and addresses of gun permit owners across New York’s Westchester and Rockland Counties is not only calling into question the safety of those homeowners, but it has also sparked concerns regarding its effect on real estate values in such “gun-concentrated” areas. According to Realtors across the country, the knowledge that a neighborhood is populated heavily with gun permit holders may cause house hunters to think twice about buying in that area.
New York-based Realtor Jason Saft predicts the hesitation will come predominantly from house hunters with families. According to Saft, in high-security, low-crime locales like New York City, owning firearms for self-protection purposes is non-essential — a fact that might have concerned house hunters questioning their potential neighbors’ reasons for ownership.
“It might not matter as much if you’re single, or a couple, or you don’t have kids. But if you have three children, for example, you probably wouldn’t want to buy a house in a neighborhood where there are a number of registered gun owners,” Saft told AOL Real Estate. “It just puts thoughts you don’t want to think in your head.”
His sentiments are echoed by Yonkers-based Realtor Gladys Molina. Molina added that the greater issue is not so much the presence of gun permit holders in any given neighborhood, but the level of concentration.
Across Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties, for example, there are approximately 44,000 individuals with gun licenses. That’s one out of every 23 adults, a figure that most likely isn’t a deal breaker for the average house hunter. But consider the snapshot of one short section of Bronx River Road in Yonkers. The Journal News’ interactive map reveals that there are 14 registered gun permit holders between the addresses of 755 Bronx River Road and 840 Bronx River Road. This figure may give house hunters pause.
“One or two gun owners in a small area, I could let go,” Molina told AOL Real Estate. “But 14 gun owners in one small area? Personally, even I would have to think twice about living there. I would worry about my safety.”
According to Denver-based Realtor Dave Ness, this could potentially translate into a decline in real estate values in such neighborhoods. The value of homes for sale in areas with a high proportion of gun permit holders, Ness said, might plummet if the neighborhood were stigmatized as a “gun-concentrated” area.
But this still remains highly unlikely, Ness concedes: As of now, unless buyers actively seek that information through Freedom of Information requests (which they can do only if the state has a gun registry), the number of gun owners in a particular neighborhood or street remains largely unknown. And according to Ness, many house hunters won’t take the steps to find out if their future neighbors might own guns.
“If a law was passed whereby real estate agents were required to disclose to buyers how many gun owners there were on a particular street or in a particular area, then it would likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy — producing fear in the buyer,” Ness told AOL Real Estate. “That would more than likely drive values lower, or slow the rate of sales.”