March 28, 2011

Impact of Power Lines on Home Values

Not in MY backyard!
While we've been house hunting lately we have seen some homes that back to power lines.   Those homes are a bit cheaper than comparable homes.   Roughly I'd say they tend to run about 10% lower priced than similar homes that aren't near power lines.

There are two major reasons that power lines near a home will hurt the home value :  1) safety concerns and 2) they are an eyesore.

Are power lines really a Health Hazard?

There is a concern that power lines can cause or increase the risk of disease such as cancer.   This is based on the idea that the Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) from the power lines are a health hazard.   But the science to back this theory is not so clear.

The EPA says : "The general scientific consensus is that, thus far, the evidence available is weak and is not sufficient to establish a definitive cause-effect relationship."

But the NIEHS says : "After reviewing more than two decades of research in this area, NIEHS scientists have concluded that the overall pattern of results suggests a weak association between increasing exposure to EMFs and an increased risk of childhood leukemia. The few studies that have been conducted on adult exposures show no evidence of a link between residential EMF exposure and adult cancers, including leukemia, brain cancer, and breast cancer."

One study from the NIEHS says :"The scientific evidence suggesting that ELF-EMF exposures pose any health risk is weak."   and "The NIEHS does not believe that other cancers or non-cancer health outcomes provide sufficient evidence of a risk to currently warrant concern."

To sum that all up :   There is some weak evidence that electro magnetic fields (EMF) can cause health risk specifically for childhood leukemia but the link is not conclusive and the evidence is somewhat debated.   So, to ask the question again : are they dangerous?  Answer : Maybe a little bit but we're not too sure.

The Ugly Factor

Whether or not power lines pose a health risk aside, it is straight forward that power lines can be pretty ugly.  Most people don't want to look out their windows and see large metal industrial looking monstrosities.   Of course some people might not mind.   I'd wager that most people would consider powerlines to be a negative as far as appearances.    This will undoubtedly impact the value of a home with a view of power lines.

How much Is the Impact to Sales Values?

The combined impact of fears of health risks and ugly factor of power lines causes homes near power lines to be lower in value.   Exactly how much that matters will of course vary.

This article discusses the impact on home values.  They cite a few studies that all agree that nearby power lines do hurt the market value of homes.

A 1995 study in Canada said : "We find that properties adjacent to a line lose 6.3 percent of their value due to proximity and the visual impact."

A 1995 poll of St. Louis real estate agents found that "54% of those surveyed believed high voltage overhead electric transmission lines ("HVOETLs") "very negatively affected" residential property values; another 23.8% considered HVOETLs to "somewhat negatively" affect property values"

In 1997 in Colorado a study found : "From the data analyzed, it is concluded that from an overall value perspective, an electric transmission line easement has less than a 10% impact on price, and in most instances, less than a 5% impact on price"

I would assume that the closer a house is to power lines and the larger the power lines are the more it will hurt the home values.

Bottom Line:   Power lines might be hazardous to your health and they are certainly unattractive.   This results in homes near powerlines having market values up to 10% lower.

Photo by vaxomatic 

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