Overhead Lines Don’t Affect Home Value, Appraisers Say

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Overhead lines may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they don’t seem to hamper home sales (Photo courtesy Pixabay).

They may be unsightly, but overhead lines are not really affecting property values, a trade journal said this week.

A peer-reviewed article in The Appraisal Journal revealed that there is actually very little data to prove that the high-voltage overhead transmission lines (or HVOTLs) are negatively impacting sales prices.

The three authors, Orrell C. Anderson (who specializes in real property damage economics), economist Jack Williamson, and research analyst Alexander Wohl looked at articles and data in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand from 2010 forward.

The journal is a quarterly technical and academic publication of the Appraisal Institute.

“Survey-based research finds adverse perceptions and general dislike for HVOTLs, but sales data reveals little to no diminution in prices,” the authors wrote. “Stated preferences by market participants in this case generally do not translate into noticeable price effects as revealed in market data.”

The article also acknowledges that technology and scope of studies on how these overhead lines affect home prices is evolving, even including sociologists to study the local opposition that occurs regarding the lines.

Changes to how power is distributed may also generate new research and new results, too. “As efforts to curb carbon emissions and decentralize the power grid continue, research will continue into the effects, if any, of these possible disamenities on property values,” they write.

We also assembled a team of experts to discuss whether what they’ve seen anecdotally jibes with what the authors of the article found.

We asked them all the same question: Do overhead lines affect home sales?

“It’s certainly not ideal, but usually it’s buyer preference,” David Maez of Vivo Realty said. “Some it will bother and others it won’t.”

“If the home has enough good points some will overlook. But I would say it’s not a deal killer, depends on the whole package.”

“I would not say that power lines or towers directly affect the sales price of the home, but they may limit buyers,” Dallas Realtor Maria Barrera said. “If you like the home and price is in your range, you go for it.”

Realtor Jenny Gamble with Russell Trenary Realtors said that she has noticed a slight lag in how long it takes to sell a home near an overhead power line.

“Like homes located on busy streets or backing to retail, it usually takes a home longer to sell if it is in close proximity to power lines or substations,” she said. “Some buyers are not bothered by power lines but many are for aesthetic and safety concerns.”

Gamble said that can translate to a smaller buyer pool and more days on the market, and that has to be taken into account when pricing the property.

“In Dallas, the power line issue has softened with city’s plans for the easements being converted into walking and bike trails — like the Northaven Trail,” she added. “Easy access to trails can help some buyers overlook the power lines.”

That “yeah-it-matters-but-only-slightly” outlook seems to be true all over the country.

“I find that for a buyer it’s either a deal breaker or it’s not, and from those who do not see it as a deal breaker, you will get market price,” said Susan Kadilak, a Realtor in the Burlington, Massachusetts, area said. “I put one in contract today actually with high tension wires running behind the lot.”

However, that doesn’t mean that at some point homeowners don’t wish for a different view out their backdoor. Davey Devlin of The Art Of Landscaping powered by Scapes Incorporated said that he has been approached to improve the view after a home buyer moves in.

“I’m not sure it’s something every buyer notices right away, as they are so focused on the home,” he said. “But it is definitely something that homeowners will spend money on trying to hide or soften with strategically placed trees when they have lived there awhile and it comes time to renovate their backyard landscape or install a pool.”

It’s something that frequently comes up as a problem looking for a solution during the design phase of backyard landscaping, he added.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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Comments

  1. LonestarBabs says

    Hmmm….try telling homeowners who live in a fast-growing area where the power co wants to install overhead lines near their neighborhood about this “study.”

    • Jon Anderson says

      Why in this day and age new power lines are allowed to be strung above ground is a mystery. We have the ability to bury them. In addition, underground cabling isn’t impacted by storms the way pole-based lines are. Just ask Florida after a hurricane.

      • Erin says

        I agree I moved here 10+ years ago from FL – I had paid for mine to be buried at my house in FL. Florida has talked about doing it across the state but cost is too high.

  2. Kristin Gragg says

    Hi Candy,

    Thank you for all that you do! I wanted to reach out to you on the power line article. I’ve been selling real estate for 22+ years, and have always seen an issue with getting the home sold, and for top dollar, if it even has a sight of a power line. The issue is 2 fold. One is it’s unsightly, and the second issue is it’s a health problem.

    I’m extremely up to speed on the health issues that surround power lines, and I find that more and more clients are also aware of this. I feel that as the awareness of the health issues become more apparent, this will continue to hinder the sale of homes near power lines.

    Again, thank you for all that you do, and keep up the great work!

  3. Erin says

    When I purchased in Dallas 10 years ago while looking one day when we pulled up to one home it had the big ones right behind it – I didn’t even go in the house because of the lines.

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