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Model Legislation and Best Practices for Fair Disclosure of Airport Impacts in Real Estate Transfers


The mandatory disclosure of potential defects, hazardous conditions, and health issues associated with residential property offered for sale is a consumer protection measure in some states.  There has been growing interest in ensuring that these “fair disclosure” requirements extend to the disclosure of the potential impacts caused by the operation of airports in the vicinity of properties offered for sale.  Some states have already enacted such laws (e.g. California, Arizona, Indiana).  Elsewhere, some local governments have attempted to impose these requirements (e.g. Platte County, Missouri).

The Vision 100 Century of Aviation Act (PL108-176), passed by Congress in 2003, directed the Federal Aviation Administration to study the feasibility of a Federal role in fair disclosure (Section 322).  The purpose of a fair disclosure program would be to provide prospective home buyers with sufficient information about the noise and flight paths associated with the nearby airport for them to make informed decisions.. 

The interest in fair disclosure laws stems from widespread concern among airport operators and aviation interest groups that, in too many cases, people buy property near airports without fully understanding the nature of the activity at the airport and the potential for annoyances related to aircraft noise, engine emissions, and aircraft overflights.  Some airport operators have reported that new property owners in the environs of the airport even claim they were misled by sellers or real estate agents about the nature of airport operations related to the property.

Adoption of fair disclosure laws that include potential impacts from aviation has been impeded by the fear of some homeowners, local officials, and representatives of the real estate industry that such disclosure may provide an exaggerated impression of the significance of aviation-related impacts and thereby impair property values.  Proponents of such disclosure laws maintain that the real estate market takes account of any aviation-related impacts regardless of fair disclosure laws.  However, there has been no rigorous analysis of whether disclosure laws have any impact on real estate prices.


1.             To develop annotated model fair disclosure legislation for consideration of state legislatures and local governments, including an analysis of the essential features required for effective fair disclosure of aviation-related impacts.

2.             To develop a set of best practices for use by airport operators and local government land use regulatory agencies in implementing fair disclosure laws and ordinances. 

3.             To analyze the effect, if any, of fair disclosure laws on the fair market value of properties subject to aviation-related impacts to which disclosure requirements apply.


The proposed research would include the following tasks:

·         Review the real estate disclosure laws of the fifty states to find potential models for fair disclosure laws regarding aviation-related impacts.

·         Through the review of prior survey research (including research undertaken for ACRP Project 03-03) and interviews with national and regional experts in airport noise and land use compatibility planning, identify local governments with active and effective fair disclosure programs. 

·         Interview representatives of local governments with effective fair disclosure programs, and representatives of the related airports, to identify best practices that may be applicable in other locations.

·         Interview selected airport operators, real estate professionals, and local government officials in states with exemplary fair disclosure laws to gain insights into the effectiveness or shortcomings of the fair disclosure requirements. 

·         Undertake an economic analysis of the impact of fair disclosure provisions on residential property values.    It is envisioned that this will involve the selection of case studies for which detailed analysis would be undertaken.

·         Develop a final report, which would include:

·         A discussion of the findings of the previous tasks

·         A model fair disclosure law for consideration by state legislatures

·         A description of  best practices for consideration by airport operators, local governments, and real estate professionals

·         An analysis of the effect, if any, of fair disclosure laws on property values.



Recommended Funding:  It is estimated that the proposed research would require a budget of approximately $600,000. 

Research Period:  It is anticipated that the proposed research could be completed in 24 months


Among the greatest challenges to the provision of adequate capacity in the national aviation system is the difficulty in building new and expanding existing airports.  Perhaps the most important reason for that difficulty is public concern about airport noise, in addition to other environmental impacts.  The absence of meaningful fair disclosure in the transfer of real estate can compound the level of public concern around an airport by making it more difficult for particularly sensitive people to “self-regulate” through their understanding of the nature of the noise and environmental issues near the airport and their decisions to look elsewhere for property.  In other words, the objective of fair disclosure with respect to airport impact should be to promote the gradual transition of residents in the vicinity of airports from those who are particularly sensitive to airport-related disturbances to those who are less concerned about and more tolerant of airport activity. 

While, by itself, fair disclosure is unlikely to be sufficient to eliminate the challenges to the construction and expansion of airports, it is likely to be a necessary part of the solution to the problem. 


·        ACRP 03-03 “Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility.”  The Project Panel has identified this as an important issue and has identified a need for research into fair disclosure models. 

·        FAA fair disclosure study undertaken in 2004

·        Numerous studies of the impact of aircraft noise and airport accessibility on residential property values(none of which are known to have considered the effect of fair disclosure laws on property values)..

Sponsoring Committee:AV020, Aviation System Planning
Source Info:This problem statement has been developed by:
Mark R. Johnson, Associate Director, Jacobs Consultancy, 5314 West 99th Terrace, Overland Park, KS 66207, 913-642-4471, fax: 913-642-3945; email: mark.johnson@jacobs-consultancy.com.
Stephen F. Pflaum, McDermott Will & Emery, 227 West Monroe Street, 312-984-3641, fax: 312-984-7700; email:spflaum@mwe.com
Date Posted:08/03/2008
Date Modified:08/04/2008
Index Terms:Property values, Real property, Real estate industry, Air traffic, Air transportation facilities, Air transportation policy, Disclosure, Information disclosure, Reporting (Disclosure), Transfers,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
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