The National Association of Realtors has created a resource area called Field Guide to Power Lines. Part of the problem with this issue is that there has been a battle of competing health studies that of course, are on the opposite side of the sprectrum.

Position: Power lines don’t affect property values
This party claims that since there is no definitive proof of a health risk, no loss in value should occur to property owners. The key driver of this movement has been the powerline industry.[Links] [American Transmission Co.]([American Trails]( From an operational perspective, EMF is not much of an issue for trail activities…[Colgate Univ Term Paper]( Just a term paper and not a scientific study but it concludes that there is more evidence that says there are limited health risks and on that basis, possibly not detrimental to value.

Position: Power lines affect property values
This party claims that since there is evidence that there is a health risk, a loss in value to property owners should be recognized. The key driver of this movement has been the environmental groups.[Links] [University of Missouri-Kansas School of Law]( A review of a case where “…that a tax assessor’s opinion that the proposed power line would not change the assessed value of the property for tax purposes was incompetent and prejudicial…”
Wave-Group An exerpt of the correspondence: “Late last year, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that the owner of property adjacent to a utility’s high-power electrical transmission lines could seek damages for a decrease in the market value of the property caused by the fear that the power lines might cause cancer, even if such a fear was not medically or scientifically reasonable. That decision has already begun to change the outlook on electromagnetic field (EMF) litigation for utilities.”

Valuation Links[Power Lines and Property Values: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly]( An incredibly detailed discussion on valuation approaches for powerline properties.[Realty Times Columns]( Concludes that homeowners would probably pay less for a property near a powerline just because of the uncertainty.

Common Sense Application for Appraisers
In a valuation matter, where an appraiser is asked to value the effect of power lines on property values, wouldn’t it come down to how the typical homebuyer in a market felt about the uncertainty of risk? In other words, if two properties are identical, but one is located under or near a powerline and one is not and the former sells for less, isn’t that indicative of the effect on value? Whether or not EMF causes cancer or not, if a buyer pays less, it would seem to me that the difference before and after is a quantifiable measure of effect.

What do you think?


  1. Eric P. August 26, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    I believe that the perceptions, and resulting actions of buyers and sellers, are the only meaningful indicators of the effect of Powerlines (PL) on nearby property values. Differences in prices might also be attributed to the negative aesthetic of visible powerlines (they arent exactly a “view amenity”). Either way, the selling prices (near PL vs. not near PL ) should generally support your conclusions. The fact that most buyers have a perception that there might be a risk in prolonged proximity to EMF generally tells you there is an effect on value.

  2. Richard Dog August 28, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Perception is reality. The studies are accurate — but incomplete. Other issues come into play in the sale — time on market and ultimate land usage. The assumption in all the discussions is that the value is maintained for usage as residential housing. It is likely that a parking lot or waste storage may bring as high a price because of other inherent factors such as easy access or relaxed zoning. It’s one thing to have long term parking of a commerical vehicle near high voltage — it’s another issue when I want to tuck my kids in at night.

  3. charles hamer December 22, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    fascinating that you have gone into such detail. I have a business in the UK dealing with the effect on property, completed or proposed, near powerlines. The growing evidence is that a link between EMF, powerlines and childhood leukemia exists. The perception of purchasers and developers to the impact of powerlines near homes, and to a lesser extent, commercial property, concludes that property values are reduced; it is therefore the amount to be discussed and not if it reduces value.

    I would be happy to communicate with others interested in this area and exchange views.

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