There are certain real estate “rules” we tend to take at face value without looking into the issue on our own. One of these rules is that you don’t want to buy a house near power lines. You may have heard warnings all your life about how power lines decrease the value of a property and in this case, the rumors are true. You should expect property that is located by power lines to sell for significantly less than similar homes not near property lines.
The effects of power lines on property values may be enough to scare some potential buyers off, so let’s look at why power lines damage property values, how much value one should expect to lose, and if health issues truly are a concern.
The short answer? Yes, power lines decrease property value. Whether or not that fact is truly as bad as it seems is something we’ll examine a bit further on. But for now, let’s try to understand why power lines cause property values to drop.
The main reason why power lines make your property worth less is simply because most people don’t like how they look. Not only are power lines not super aesthetically pleasing, but they tend to block views. Sound plays just as big of a factor as sight. If a property is too close to a power line, the residents have to listen to the humming sound they produce when trying to relax in their own backyard.
While these concerns may be easy to overlook for some, one aspect of power lines that many can’t ignore is the rumored health concerns. We’ll break these health concerns down shortly, but for now it’s worth noting that no research has proven any solid links between the proximity to power lines and medical issues.
One of the biggest hurdles when you live near power lines is quite burdensome. If a home sits right under power lines, there will be restrictions regarding how the homeowner can utilize their property. Landscaping especially causes complications, because trees can become tangled with power lines.
How much power lines decrease the value of a home varies, but many studies have been done on this issue and can give you a ballpark idea of what to expect.
A 2018 study from the Journal of Real Estate Research found that vacant lots near high-voltage power lines sell for 44.9% less than equivalent lots that aren’t located near power lines. If you take a step back, a lot that is located within 1,000 feet of transmission lines tends to sell for 17.9% less.
Other studies confirm similar numbers, but of course a home value is determined by many factors.
While there are both pros and cons of living near power lines to consider, many people tend to focus on the negatives here. While the negative aspects of power lines are hard to ignore, in some cases the benefits that come along with living near them may truly be worth it to a homebuyer.
There is widespread concern about the health effects of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that are generated by power lines. Unfortunately, studies have not been able to disprove these concerns. On the flip side, no research has indicated that these concerns are valid either. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other major agencies have looked into this issue and have yet to confirm adverse health consequences caused by the EMFs associated with power lines.
There are rumors that EMFs cause cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, heart abnormalities, and other health issues, but there is no conclusive evidence to support these claims. While some studies have found correlations between power lines and cancer, these studies did not confirm how much distance from power lines is considered to be safe or how much exposure leads to health issues.
If you have your heart set on a property near power lines and are concerned about potential health effects, you can contact your local electric utility company to request an on-site reading to better understand what the properties EMF levels are like before you buy.
Even if there aren’t power lines directly over your property, if you are concerned about potential health effects, you may want to know just how much of a distance you want to keep between you and the power lines. Once you know what type of power lines are nearby, you can determine just how far your property needs to be from them to avoid potential EMF effects.
Once you’re 500 feet away, it’s no longer possible to measure the EMF effect of power lines, so you should be able to rest a little easier knowing you're a good distance from them.
Even though power lines negatively impact the value of a property, they don’t necessarily make or break your ability to sell a home. There are plenty of house hunters who would be willing to overlook power lines in favor of skipping out on bidding wars and paying HOAs.
Want to learn more about other factors that can negatively impact the value of a home? These are 11 factors that can impact your home appraisal.
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