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Can chicken coops help or hurt the sale of a home?

The property values?

One of the first orders of business this year in Nashville’s quest for sustainability, is the urban hen. Currently they aren’t allowed here but there is a chicken ordinance bill working it’s way through City Council as we speak.

If you are asking yourself how this pertains to real estate, I’ll tell you there are some freaked out Realtors and citizens alike who are convinced a couple of chickens might destroy our fragile real estate market as we know it.

Here is what I know about the ordinance and other similar ordinances that are in over 70 major cities nationally. It would require an annual permit fee of $25, no roosters because they crow, only six hens, no slaughter, must be in a predator-proof coop, minimum set back of 10-30 ft from your neighbors property line and even further from existing buildings.

Here is what I know about hens: they aren’t loud, their poopie can be composted, they have a sweet disposition, and most importantly they lay eggs. The reason there has been a movement in more individuals wanting to own chickens is because of concerns about the quality of feed being given to chickens at industrialized feed lots and also the quality of their existence being confined to a cage or overcrowded pins.

In addition, because of the concentration of birds, bacteria like salmonella is more rampant and the eggs are treated with harsh chemicals that aren’t always effective. There also seems to be a pretty major consensus that the eggs just plain old taste better. You can buy traditional farm raised eggs from local farmer’s markets (BTW -they do seem to taste a lot better to me) but most run around $5 a dozen which can be cost prohibitive.

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Property values and chickens

When the ordinance went before council back in November, one of the primary objections was property values and perception of our city. I ended up writing this article which suggests I couldn’t find anything online that shows examples of property being devalued by the presence of back yard hens. I also, for kicks, looked at Forbes lists of the 10 healthiest real estate markets and all but one city (ours incidentally) allow chickens.  On a  side note, one little article about something really random like chickens got me quoted in the city paper, on the news, in a documentary, and invited to speak to city council, so don’t be afraid to blog outside the box this year.  Somebody actually clucked at me at the grocery store the other day, I was so proud but I digress…

Now in case I have to speak before city council again which incidentally is a little intimidating, I want to be better prepared. NAR has no information on the subject and I am on the prowl for input either way.  I’m not looking for a discussion of why store-bought eggs are good or bad, I strictly want to know if any of you have noticed that chickens have created issues with your clients being able to buy or sell a home. Anyone?

Written By

Anna Altic – Village Real Estate Services. I’ve called Nashville home for the last 15 years and have been practicing (practice being the key word here) real estate for just over 6 years. In the fall of 2007, I went to a local German Festival that had a home tour, including a LEED certified property, and I instantly became enamored with the idea of eco friendly living (ok, so I’d had a little beer and the dual flush toilet rocked my world). I have since devoted much of my time and energies in to studying and espousing the benefits of better building technology within our local residential market and my proudest accomplishment thus far has been successfully leading the initiative to get over 25 green features added to our MLS search fields.



  1. david schmid

    January 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    We were the first in the neighborhood to get chickens. Now there are 6 coops in the neighborhood. None of us have sold, but the instant popularity make me think it can't hurt!

  2. Rosemary Gleason Reed

    January 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I don't have personal experience with chicken coops in an RE transaction, but I can tell you that, I would have to tell my buyers that operating the coop in this climate might be cost prohibitive. A family friend built one for his wife: thousands of dollars later he spend $250.00 per month to heat it and they net about 7 dozen eggs a week. Using your figure I'd say that's an expensive hobby.

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