Excellent questions and one I wrote about on my real estate blog several years back (the link is http://www.losaltoshomes.com/2008/01/03/electric-and-magneti ).
The amount of effect on price depends on the market but for a detailed analysis please go to my blog post.
Coldwell Banker - Los Altos Office
Some cities are slowly moving the power lines underground. If you own a home where that is going to happen you will probably be responsible for the cost of running the underground power from your property boundary to your main disconnect/power meter. When I built a new house I had underground conduits put in so that I wouldn't have to do it in the future.
(see my diary of building a new Palo Alto home http://julianalee.com/diary.htm)
High voltage power lines often have easements associated with them which could limit what you want to do with your property. Trees can interfere with ordinary power lines. The utility company may trim a tree and make it look pretty odd. Your real estate agent can check on easements.
Juliana Lee, MBA LLB
Top 3 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty
Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 home sales completed in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
It would not be recommended to buy with Power Towers in the backyard.
One can ask PG&E to come and do a study. Or one can buy an EMF meter
from Fry's electronics.
Interesting question, and one we run into from time to time...as the others have answered below, there are different overhead power lines that can be found in residential neighborhoods depending on the location of the development, era in which it was built, and density of housing.
Most common of the overhead power-lines found in residential neighborhoods are called distribution lines and are very typical in older neighborhoods, often running either in front of a property along the street, or at the rear running above the back fence. Less common are the high-voltage transmission lines...these are easy to spot as the power lines are suspended high above the neighborhood from large metal structures, and usually run over vacant land or even parks throughout a community.
As far as I'm aware, the only proven safety risks are associated with downed distribution power lines which can occasionally occur from high winds, snapped tree branches and even rodent activity. There is also lot of concern over possible cancer causing-effects from constant exposure to EMF radiation created from high-voltage transmission lines, although all studies performed have been inconclusive.
For more information about power lines and possible safety concerns, see PG&E's website: http://www.pge.com/mybusiness/edusafety/contractor/powerline/
With inventory as limited as it is right now, the existence of high-tension towers and power lines in neighborhoods will not have much effect on sales and will not result in discounts in sales prices.
I once listed a house for sale that had a high-tension power line a few feet from the property line. When I suggested that some buyers might have a concern about the proximity of the home to the tower and power lines the owner said, â€œThat is not a problem. I am an engineer and I know the lines are of no concern.â€ The market was brisk, the neighborhood was otherwise desirable and the house sold easily and with no discount from other neighboring houses.
In a different market, with plenty of inventory, I have seen houses that are close to high power lines sit on the market for a longer time and, eventually, sell at a somewhat lower price.
Electromagnetic fields are a concern to some home buyers. Here is a link to the PG&E website with additional information http://www.pge.com/en/myhome/edusafety/systemworks/electric/
This is a very good question. Unless a home is in a new development or a city which has already put their utilities underground you are going to have electrical wires in the back yard. Your appreciation will be the same as all the other homes in the neighborhood. However, if what you have is a high voltage/transformers in your back yard it will definitely be harder to resell your home. I can not speak to the safety of electromagnetic waves as the science is not very advanced at this point, but I can tell you those electrical towers are unsightly, and many buyers are very concerned with the health implications. You should be able to get a good discount on the home compared to similar homes without electrical towers in their backyards, which will be reflected in the price you can get when you sell it. the problem really arrises if you need to sell during a down market. If that is the case, you may not be able to sell the house at all if there are other homes without the electrical tower in their back yards.
Keller Williams Palo Alto
Certified Residential Appraiser
We did all the research and, as with any purchase, weighed the pros and cons. We also had an analysis performed by our power company, just to be sure. It was completely safe and our back deck, closest to the power lines gave off less electo current than a blow dryer, which is used daily.
We find that this is a tactic used to try to diminish the value of perfectly wonderful homes. We urge you not to buy into the negative comments.