Power lines versus property values

We’ve all heard stories about homes being unsellable due to high-voltage power lines existing in close proximity to the house. In addition, some people believe that the electromagnetic field generated by the wires can cause a wide variety of ailments, from headaches to cancer.

Here to sort it all out is real estate expert John Adams.

Question:  Does the presence of high-voltage power lines lower the value of the nearby residential real estate?

Adams:  It certainly can. Market value is defined as that price which a buyer would offer and a seller would accept in a competitive and open market, each fully knowledgeable and under no duress or pressure.

High voltage power lines can have an impact on your home’s value. But power lines alone are simply one of many factors influencing the overall value, and it’s impossible to accurately say exactly how much of a negative the power lines will be.

In a nutshell, market value is a function of many, many factors about a property, from the color of the exterior paint to the physical location of the house, and a million little things in between.

Is it a real factor?  Yes. But is it a major factor?  In most cases, no. Buyers typically try to take into account all factors that are most important to that buyer when evaluating the desirability of any given property.

According to Adams, the most important factors in determining market value is location, followed closely by recent nearby selling prices of similar homes. 

So, what are some of the other factors that are likely more important than nearby power lines?

  1. Location, Location, Location.  Think of a house located in BUCKHEAD versus the same house in Dublin.
  2. Condition of House.  Is the house in move-in spectacular condition or does it need major repairs?
  3. Desirability of Neighborhood.  Are the schools and amenities amazing or virtually non-existent?
  4. Bedroom/Bath Count.  Does it meet or exceed the prospective buyer’s needs?
  5. Square Footage (size) of House.  A mansion is almost always worth more than a tiny starter condo.
  6. Curb Appeal.  Does it look super-desirable and inviting from the street?

All of these factors are probably more important than the presence of nearby high voltage power lines.  To further complicate matters, the degree of visibility of those wires has been shown to be another important factor influencing consumers.

In other words, if the visibility of the wires is obscured by trees or even another structure, the wires typically become a much less important factor.

And a final note: dozens of studies have been performed by a variety of governmental and educational institutions, and there is no credible evidence that living in the proximity of power lines causes health issues.  

In fact, all electrical devices, from your cell phone to your television to your microwave, all of these generate some level of EMF, or electromagnetic field.  The National Institutes of Health report no strong evidence that EMF exposure poses a health risk.  

BOTTOM LINE:  Close proximity to high voltage power lines probably do have some impact on your home’s value. But power lines alone are simply one of many factors influencing the overall market value, and it’s impossible to accurately estimate exactly how much of a negative the power lines may be.