Rocky Mountain Not-So High


Oil, gas wells drive down Colorado home values, reveals WVU research.

A cornucopia of contradiction is dotting the landscape of Colorado’s Front Range, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

In the foreground of dramatic peaks and valleys, which are never out-of-season for a stunning snapshot, are — oil and gas wells. And they’re influencing house prices.

Heather Stephens, assistant professor of resource economics and management at West Virginia University, found that shale development negatively impacts house prices, particularly for houses with private water and close proximity to the mountains.

Homes that rely on private water have lower valuations due to concerns about potential groundwater contamination from nearby wells. Likewise, a house with wells visible from the property sold for an average of $3,000 less.

These findings come from Stephens’ analysis of data on housing sales between 2006 and 2014 for the Front Range region of Colorado. Stephens co-authored the study with Amanda Weinstein, University of Akron, which is published in the peer-reviewed academic journal “Growth and Change.”

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Image via West Virginia University