Purchasing a house near power lines?

erimeliOctober 11, 2007

My fiance and I are looking into purchasing our first house, and we are interested in a new housing development in our area. We love the floorplan, the price is right, and we'd have plenty of space to "grow". There are only a few more lots left, and the builder is offering a great bonus that we can put toward upgrades for the house (nicer trim level, kitchen upgrades, etc.).

The only issue is that the neighborhood is split down the center by power lines. The power lines run through a grass belt (it just looks like a giant, lengthy field) that functions as a common area. One of the lot options we've looked at is directly next to the belt. We have other lot options that are a block or so away, but the power lines and towers are still visible in the distance.

We'd probably opt for one of the lots further away from the belt, even though this would mean a slightly smaller yard. However, I worry about the affect the power lines will have on resale value. I'm not too worried about safety so long as we aren't in one of the houses right near the belt, but I worry that there may be perceived dangers that would limit the amount of people interested in our house when we decide to sell in the future.

The pros are that we'll get a great starter home at a very decent price for our area, and with the bonus upgrades added in. The cons are the power lines. In your opinion, how close is too close for power lines near your house? Even if our house isn't directly next to the power lines, do you think the fact that they run through the neighborhood would have an effect on our resale value? What would you do in this situation?

Thanks in advance for any advice/thoughts!

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theroselvr

Regular service lines do not bother me, they are common here; but high tension lines do bother me. We passed on a beautiful lot due to high tension lines.

If you do buy closer to them (if they are high tension) it may be harder to sell, but then again, if you are getting a good deal, when you sell you may be able to pass that savings on.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 2:01PM
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erimeli

Thanks, roselvr, for your thoughts!

I should clarify that the power lines are definitely not regular service lines. They are transmission lines with the large metal towers. However, I don't believe any of the towers are actually located in the neighborhood - the nearest ones are in wooded areas just outside of the neighborhood. So, the grass belt area running through the center of the neighborhood just has wires overhead if that makes sense. It doesn't look that bad to me (we didn't even notice it when we visited the first time), but we want to be smart about this purchase.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 2:26PM
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newgardenelf

You know the two words.....Resale value......any oddity you are willing to overlook may not be so easily overlooked by future buyers. Conforming homes will appreciate at a better rate than nonconforming homes/areas.

My advice run the comps for similar homes in other neighborhoods- are you paying the same or less (IMO you should pay less). But they aren't making anymore land and most new neighborhoods are in funky locations and some people don't care- they want a newer house.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 2:44PM
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sparksals

If you do a search, there is a very long thread here about this very topic. Try using the keywords "power lines" and it should bring it up. It got very heated!

As for what I think? I grew up in a very nice area that is highly desirable. Houses in that community fly off the market. The court backs onto a long field, almost exactly what you described. The houses along the field have never had trouble selling.

The power lines are like huge towers dispersed throughout the field. The bonus is in this area, there are no power lines going from the house to the alley like in many older areas and I think this was one of the first areas in the city to bury the power going to the house.

Anyway, I think it depends on the area and location. This community is close to downtown, yet seems miles away. There are parks, green areas, recreation, shopping etc.

Those power lines never caused us any trouble and they are not visible from my parent's house. In fact, growing up there, I stopped noticing the towers after awhile.

In your case, it's going to depend on how desirable the area becomes, how close it is to the city or ammenities. Each area is different. For us, it wasn't an issue at all, but in other areas, it could be a deal killer.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 2:51PM
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qdognj

Would not consider a home that directly abuts high tension/transmission electric lines..No matter what the savings..And i'd likley pass on any home that was within several hundred feet of the aforementioned...

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 2:58PM
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patty_cakes

Not on your life! In my last neighborhood, there were several people who got cancer, and ALL their homes were on the diagonal to the power lines. The lines didn't go over the houses, but maybe the energy from the lines extended in that direction. Another crazy thing, all the homes were one story, except for one where the den/office was upstairs. The husband had brain cancer. There were several children in the neighborhood who got leukemia, and I know of two that died. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to leave there. We were there 7 years, and most of the other people were there 3-4 years before us. Maybe a 'short stay' if you decide on the house?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 3:49PM
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tauphidelt

I grew up next to power lines. Next to the towers, in fact. I also grew up the child of a very highly-placed, major power company executive, so if said parent had no fear of the health ramifications, neither do I.

That said? Still wouldn't do it. Whatever the reality is or isn't, the perception is enough to bring many many thousands less on a home near the lines and that's not an investment I want to bet on.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 4:14PM
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mfbenson

Some power lines have a faint hum. That would bug me over time. Looking at them is a bit on the eyesore side, but so are lots of other things. As far as health effects, I don't believe it. There have been all sorts of studies done, all failing to find a correlation to people's residence and power lines. Some people will tell you that its all a big cover-up, but people will believe any thing. Places that have had localized outbreaks can be due to some other environmental factor, and they can also be due to random variation - "clumps" occur in any random assortment. I used to work in a power plant, and we didn't have a single worker, some of whom had been there decades, who got cancer or any other major disease. I can't say that of other places I've worked, where smokers came down with emphysema or lung cancer. Now of course that's only anecdotal, but then so are the stories people have of "everyone" near a power line getting cancer.

If electromotive fields caused cancer, cellphones would be banned. EMF decreases by the square of the distance - and a power line would have to be billions of volts and amperes to have the same electrical field 100 yards away as a cell phone held up to your head to talk on it.

If there are a lot of positive things going for this house, I'd say go for it. If you're on the fence, maybe keep looking.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 5:22PM
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newjerseybt

Perception is the only problem IMO.

If you own an electric fan, air conditioner, television, electric blanket or any device with a coiled wire inside, the magnetic fields are more concentrated and stronger than those fields generated from single wire power lines even when at 50kv.

Next time a Dr. orders an MRI, try mentioning that bit about cancer. Those magnetic fields are the strongest you will ever experience and I'll bet any doctor will agree that they are less dangerous than X-Rays.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 5:29PM
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juliebatt

If they bother you, chances are at least 50% of other buyers are bothered by it too. That limits your buyer pool tremendously. So you need to make sure you get a price attractive enough to make power lines worth it to more buyers, KWIM? It has to be irrisistable.

For me, I wouldn't want to get any of the houses near the greenbelt, and I'm not even sure I'd want to walk/play directly under them either (no price is worth that to me)! But I'd be fine with a house a block away. That's plenty far enough for me.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 5:33PM
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terriks

I always figured that if the power lines caused cancer there would be a lot of dead birds out there.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 5:40PM
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marys1000

terriks - how do you know there aren't a lot of dead birds out there?

FWIW - I don't know whether they cause a problem or not but like a lot of people figure what I don't know may hurt me and so if I had a choice btw to otherwise similar properties and price would choose the one without, and not because of aesthetics. I am drawn to the green space they are always surrounded by though. Kind of a tough call.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 6:24PM
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HandyMac

The only thing that occurs when an electrical charge is carried by a wire is that there is a magnetic field created around the wire-----that is the reason an electrical motor works. Any wire with electricity in it has that field. The higher the current, the larger the field. But, even the huge towered transmission lines do not create a large enough magnetic field to reach the ground.

I once talked with a man who was protesting electrical lines caused cancer---he had one of those magnetic 'healing' necklaces on----. Yeah, real educated person.

The biggest gotcha is the eyesore created by the towers/lines. And the necessary maintenance of the land under the wires. That would be the only negative for me. But, I am too deaf to hear the hum---which can happen.

Oh, those lines can interfere with radio reception and maybe other kinds.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 6:59PM
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nancylouise_gw

We passed on a really nice house because of the towers that were running along the back of the property. Not only because of the health problems but also because of the bad view it created. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 7:37PM
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brickeyee

Hazard? No.
The leading cause of death is life.

Just as you are having second thoughts, others will when you try and sell.
Keep looking.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 7:46PM
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devorah

We twiced passed on houses that were directly adjacent to high tension power lines. I can't abide the buzzing noise and I don't like my teeth buzzing along with it.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 7:54PM
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chisue

This is what is called an irremediable defect -- something objectionable about a property that you cannot change. Similar defects are living under the elevated tracks or beside an expressway or 'sniffing distance' from a rendering plant. Obviously, people build and buy these, but at big reductions. Even with lower pricing, your pool of buyers at resale will be small. I bet the builder got a heck of a deal on that property!

Location is considered to be the first three rules of chosing a home.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 11:47AM
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tom418

I haven't come across anything reliable that says that living near high tension wires is dangerous, so I wouldn't be turned off by power lines. It's all a matter of taste.

I personally wouldn't touch a house that had a built in swimming pool, for fear of liability issues. To each his own...

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 4:01PM
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reh4

The confusion and misinformation on this subject is disheartening...

I am the child of a power company executive and the manager of a large oncology practice. So I feel well versed to comment on the subject. My parents have owned two homes in close proximity to lines. I have two healthy brothers and my wife and I have two healthy children growing up with a powerline rite-of-way behind our home. My mother who scared the heck out of us in regard to smoking had no qualms about living near the lines. When you cut out all the uninformed banter, the simple fact is power lines are safe. That being said they are not pretty, but if you are concerned about emf's you shouldn't be. You get more exposure to emf's from your household appliances than you ever will living under lines. In fact living near the lines often comes with a distinct advantage and that is privacy. In every situation I have encountered the lines were positioned on protected land so backing up to them means that you will never have anyone build directly behind you. If privacy is something you are looking for living by the lines might be a good choice.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 3:15PM
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jane__ny

Problem is, buyers don't believe this. It's like finding a house with radon. Even though its treated, most people are not comfortable with it. I live a few blocks from high power lines, and I know there are people who are afraid of them.

For resale, I would not buy a house with radon or power lines nearby.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 4:25PM
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1995imaginee_midtel_net

Is there a way to check how much current the towers are giving off? Can I hire someone to check on this if I find a house that is close to high tension towers?

I am looking to buy a home and have seen a few that are next door to towers. So I need to know how much current is too much? What is the amount I need to stay away from?

Thank you for any information! ~Linda

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 6:54PM
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ncrealestateguy

In my experience, power lines are one of the biggest turn offs for buyers. Most tell me to turn around, and do not even go inside. Any discount the builder is giving you will be expected by the next buyer too.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 7:20AM
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booboo60

Location, location, location......

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 11:50AM
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brickeyee

"Is there a way to check how much current the towers are giving off?"

They are not giving off any current or the POCO would be out there fixing the defect.

They create a 60 Hz magnetic and electric field.
You can measure the field, but be sure to use a tripod or other fixed mount for the sensor required.
Just moving the sensor in the earths magnetic field will produce a reading also.

You cannot hold an EM field sensor in you hand and get reliable readings from power lines.
The values are that small.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 12:22PM
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lowspark

Regardless of whether or not they pose a hazard, enough people believe they do to limit resale. Then out of the remaining pool of people who don't think it's a hazard, there will be a certain percentage who don't like the view or who are also worried about resale.

Unless you are getting a huge bargain you probably should pass. Personally, I would pass regardless of the price. Especially in today's market, there's plenty more out there to choose from.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 2:16PM
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ncrealestateguy

There is more inventory out there now than ever in your lifetime... why not just move on?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 2:28PM
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coloradomomof5

Your're not thinking of phone lines? We live out in the country with phone lines above ground along all the roads-even behind our house. In town, they bury them nowadays, but not out here yet.

Radon: Here in Colorado, at the base of most mountains, which all I believe are made of granite, we have high levels of radon. We are sitting on a mountain made of granite, which emits radon. That is just something we accept living in this area. Many people get a mitigation system. We never did in the last two houses.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 3:34PM
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rosebush

Health issues aside, just realize the power company owns a large right-of-way for those transmission lines. They have the right to spray herbicides all over that area to "protect" them. I had my organic garden ruined by the local power company spraying underneath transmission lines that run across my land.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Pradeep2011

Instead of just going after different postings on this subject, I decided to verify this subject myself (because I am planning to buy a house which is about 200ft from High Tension Power Line). I bought a reasonably branded EMF meter and surveyed the area around power lines. My findings are:
Zone right underneath has high emf (approx. 50mG), but moving only few feet (30ft) from the centre of power line the emf drops drastically (I made all sorts of verifications, cross checks and convinced that emf effect from power line is negligibly small (none) when >50-100ft away from power lines.

In this process I thought to check my household appliances and following are findings.
Microwave (ON): 20-100mG (big number)
Refrigeretor: 5-20 mG (High reading in fridge section)
Bottom part of Laptop: 10-30mG
Power adaptors: 30-100mG

Now I learnt that I shouldn't keep Laptop in Lap, or sleep with power adapter around head or standing too close to Microwave.

These are just my fact and findings, everyone can have different interpretation for it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:40PM
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berniek

Also, utilities like to run additional easements along existing right of ways. The likelyhood of more utilities across your property in the future is a great possibility.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:58AM
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LoveInTheHouse

It would have to be a really, really good deal for us to buy by powerlines because of resale. People are scared of them. In fact, I have something on my website to this effect: No suprises--no powerlines, no junkyards, no busy road, etc.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 12:27AM
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ncrealestateguy

Pradeep2011,
No matter what findings you get from your tests, it will have no impact on your resale value. I would never recommend my clients to buy a home that had a view of powerlines.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 8:09AM
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mojomom

No. We are looking in a town which has an otherwise lovely area with huge power lines running through it's greenspace. We stay out of that area for the aesthetics alone. Apparently many others feel the same because of the way these properties are languishing on the market compared to other nearby areas where there is at least some movement.

Our realtor has been given the instructions not to show us a power line property.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:40PM
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treehugger56

Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) Radiation from Power Lines http://www.epa.gov/radtown/power-lines.html
Being a radiation worker, your exposure to harmful radiation is inversely proportional to the distance. If you are twice the distance from the source, your exposure is decreased by four. One significant hazard is children playing outside. The laws of Bergone and Tribondeau (radiobiologists) is basically rapidly growing or producing cells (children, growing fetus,etc.) are more sensitive to radiation. This is why leukemia may be more common to children playing outside near the source than those adults who may be inside with some protection). One reason that studies by the government do not fully state warnings to human health caused by electromagnetic radiation is conflict of interest. Many times chairpersons on committees are connected to power plants/companies. This is legal as long as the person discloses the "conflict of interest". The EPA states: The general scientific consensus is that, thus far, the evidence available is weak and is not sufficient to establish a definitive cause-effect relationship. No surprise there.
One study in California: STATEMENT TO THE PUBLIC
The reviewers expressed their judgments using two distinct sets of guidelines to evaluate the evidence:
· Using the traditional guidelines of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for childhood leukemia, their classifications for EMFs ranged from “human
carcinogen” to “probable human carcinogen” to “possible human carcinogen” (IARC’s Groups 1, 2A, 2B). Panels convened by IARC and the National Institutes for
Environmental Health Sciences classified EMFs as a “possible human carcinogen” for childhood leukemia.
· Using the traditional guidelines of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for adult leukemia, their classifications for EMFs ranged from “human carcinogen”
to “possible human carcinogen” (IARC’s Group 1 and 2B). The IARC Working Group classified the EMF evidence on adult leukemia as “inadequate.” The National Institutes
for Environmental Health Sciences classified it as “possible.”
· Using the Guidelines developed especially for the California EMF program, one of the reviewers “strongly believes” that high residential EMFs cause some degree of
increased risk of childhood leukemia, another was “prone to believe” that they do, and another was “close to the dividing line between believing or not believing.”
· Using the Guidelines developed especially for the California EMF program, one of the reviewers was “ prone to believe” that high residential or occupational EMFs cause
some degree of increased risk of adult leukemia, while the other two were “close to the dividing line between believing or not believing.
In 2005 Draper et al. found a 70% increase in childhood leukemia for those living within 200 metres (656 ft) of an overhead transmission line, and a 23% increase for those living between 200 and 600 metres (656 and 1,969 ft). The authors concluded that "the relation may be due to chance or confounding." The authors considered it unlikely that the increase from 200 m to 600 m is related to magnetic fields as they are well below 0.4 µT at this distance.[39] Bristol University (UK) has published work on a theory that could account for this increase, and would also provide a potential mechanism, being that the electric fields around power lines attract aerosol pollutants.[15]
IMO, no way would I buy a house near those power lines.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 5:34PM
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