Power lines can sway buyers

The summer issue of the prestigious Appraisal Journal was released recently, and it contained a lengthy story on the widely believed negative effect that high-voltage power lines have on the value of a house located near them.

Amazingly, these experts studied houses in Connecticut located under or near high-voltage power lines every which way but loose, and they came up with the conclusion that proximity to power lines has no impact on home values. None.

Sorry, but I just don’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that living under a big electric line will do anything bad to you. In fact, for all I know, you might wake up feeling more energized every morning.

But I simply don’t believe that there is no impact on value. In 1978, I passed the real estate exam. Then my buddy Van Johnson and I interviewed several brokers to find just the right one.

We chose Barton & Ludwig, metro Atlanta’s largest broker at the time. And the first thing I learned from my first broker was that certain things make a house less desirable in the eyes of buyers:

● Any house that backs up to a railroad — the whistle will keep you awake all hours.

● Any house that is in the “fall zone” of a cell tower or other tall antenna — who wants a big pole falling through the roof.

● Any house that is located directly on an extremely busy street — how can you play kickball when you are constantly dodging cars?

● Any house located near a sewer treatment plant — the odor is enough to curl your toes.

● Any house located near or (heaven forbid) under high- voltage power lines. Not having any technical ability, I always assumed it was the “hum” of alternating current that caused the problem, but apparently I was wrong.

Forget the fact that you can stand under these lines holding a florescent light bulb and it will light up on its own at night. (I’m not kidding.)

By the way, this study was funded by Northeast Utilities, parent of Connecticut Power & Light, the utility proposing “significant expansion of the 345-kV transmission grid over the next decade.”

John Adams is a broker and investor. He answers real estate questions on radio station WGKA (920am) every Saturday at noon. For more real estate information or to make a comment, visit www.money99.com.