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GLIN==> OSU Researchers Find Cleaner Water Increases Lake Erie Waterfront Property Values

OSU Researchers Find Cleaner Water Increases Lake Erie Waterfront Property Values




January 24, 2007



Ohio Sea Grant researchers Drs. Elena Irwin and Tim Haab have discovered that cleaner shoreline water can bring higher returns when selling a waterfront property on Lake Erie.


Like much of the waterfront property around the country, the demand for shoreline property bordering Lake Erie’s eight Ohio counties has skyrocketed over the past 20 years, with average home prices starting at $500,000.


Irwin looked at whether environmental amenities like clear lake water and nearby beaches could have contributed to those rising housing prices.


“People view houses not as one good, but as a bundle of goods—house size, number of bathrooms, school district, and proximity to retail are a few of the factors that potential buyers evaluate when purchasing a home,” explains Irwin, Associate Professor at The Ohio State University’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. “We wanted to add an environmental variable like water quality as one of those goods and compare it with the more traditional home amenities.”


To do this, Irwin and Haab worked with graduate student Shihomi Ara to collect historical housing information from four predominantly-residential Lake counties, as well as data on the water quality associated with Lake Erie beaches.  


Their research found that when Lake Erie water clarity increased, property values increased by 4-5%.


Average waterfront properties also increased the closer they were to beaches. A house’s value rose by nearly $12,000 (or the resale value of adding a fireplace) when that waterfront home was within 10 miles of a Lake Erie beach.


 “This research shows that there is a direct link to environmental amenities and increased economic value—if we increase the Lake’s water quality or if a house is close to a beach, property owners can profit by a specific dollar amount,” concludes Irwin.


For more about this Ohio Sea Grant funded research, go to Twine Line’s research feature at





For more information about this Ohio Sea Grant funded project: contact

Dr. Elena Irwin, Ohio State University





Jill Jentes Banicki, Ohio Sea Grant