Is it safe to buy a home with power lines in/near the backyard? How much will it impact the home's ability to hold/gain in value over time?

Asked by aweb, Mountain View, CA Thu Jan 31, 2013

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Juliana Lee’s answer
Juliana Lee, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Thu Jan 31, 2013
Most of the time ordinary power lines will not have a significant impact on the price of the home. There are some buyers who do put effort into avoiding homes with overhead wires but most buyers accept them if they want the house. Keep in mind that your house is full of wires which are a lot closer to you than the power lines in your back yard.

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

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
Cell: 650-857-1000
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
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4 votes
David Blockh…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Fri Feb 1, 2013

Excellent questions and one I wrote about on my real estate blog several years back (the link is…).

The amount of effect on price depends on the market but for a detailed analysis please go to my blog post.


David Blockhus
Coldwell Banker - Los Altos Office
650 917-4250
2 votes
Ruth and Per…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Thu Feb 7, 2013
Hi Aweb

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.…

Best regards
4 votes
Flag Thu Aug 29, 2013
Brad Gill, Agent, San Jose, CA
Thu Jan 31, 2013
Hi Aweb,

Interesting question, and one we run into from time to 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:
3 votes
Russ Ravary, Agent, Commerce Township, MI
Tue Mar 5, 2013
Power lines do affect the value of the house. Some people are adverse to buying a home with power lines nearby. They have some studies that say there are no health issues, but.......
2 votes
John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Fri Feb 1, 2013
Power lines that deliver power to homes from poles in the street are standard and common in older neighborhoods. No problem whatsoever.

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, “That is not a problem. I am an engineer and I know the lines are of no concern.” 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…
2 votes
Thank you for this link John, it is a great piece of info to give to buyers and sellers.
Flag Sun Feb 3, 2013
Marcy Moyer, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Thu Jan 31, 2013
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.

Marcy Moyer
Keller Williams Palo Alto
D.R.E. 01191194
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2 votes
Elena Talis, Broker, Palo Alto, CA
Thu Jan 31, 2013
It depends... If you have overhead wires delivering power the neighborhood homes (most commonly wooden utility poles) it seems to be normal in a lot of places and that won't affect values of individual homes. If you have high voltage wires running near your property they will make most of the buyers discount the property or bypass it altogether.
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2 votes
Wiseshopper1…, Home Buyer, Mountain View, CA
Mon Sep 19, 2016
We have been owners of a home near power lines and have never encountered any problems. We have owned here for over 15 years and our neighbors express the same sentiments. As a matter of fact, the power lines actually provide us with a sense of security. We have a beautiful natural space behind our house and never have to worry about neighbors building directly near our home.

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.
1 vote
so you had the fox telling you how safe the chicken house is?
Flag Fri Oct 28, 2016
Sam, Both Buyer And Seller, Irving, TX
Sun Jun 21, 2015
It will not be a wise decision if one buy a house near power lines or a substation. I had been thru this before in the upcoming and demanded city suburb of Dallas. The builders gives good discounts but that is just theoretical percentage say around 6.3% according to the researches like Stanley Hamilton and Gregory Schwann. But the actual market prices are not as expected, they are 10-15% above the true values due to the unordinary demand, so as the depreciation of my house for this reason. Other houses in the same community has the way better appreciation such that it was their investment i.e they got profit due to appreciation or atleast not a loss. But my house appraisal didn't reach the interest that I have paid (as the amortization will be high for first 10 years). Apart from the long term health issues, if there is no option except that you have to buy it ask for atleast 15% discount or difference from the other houses in the same community or else take my word that you will end up in loss when u sell it.
1 vote
Appraiser, Other Pro, Oakland, CA
Sun Nov 9, 2014
As to power lines, it has been my experance that they are 10 to 15% less valuable than comparable homes which are not near such lines. By power lines, I mean the large high tenson transmission lines. Being in the fall zone which FHA considers the probable area they would fall in the event of a tower collapse,may prevent them from being financed through FHA or VA loans. A good home inspector can measure the electromagnetic field which may or may not be a problem. As far as future value, we would expect them to appreciate or depreciate with the market and barring any new studies, this should remain consistent. Overall, I would give minimal consideration if they are a block or more away but there may be a value effect if they (the towers especially) are visible from the home or yard. If they are within a few hundred yards, I would apply the 10-15% discount based on paired data analysis. The further away, the better. I personally would not purchase a home near this type of power line but that is based on the market stigma...
Certified Residential Appraiser
1 vote
Arpad Racz, Agent, San Jose, CA
Wed Jun 28, 2017

This is one of many personal considerations to look into. As far as value, an appraiser or your real estate agent could look into sales over time that are right next to high power lines and then similar homes that are further away, and help you see if there are differences that you are able to use in decision making.

Kind regards,
0 votes
Mk.brock, Home Buyer, Mountain View, CA
Wed Jun 28, 2017
I would not the is one near a dog park and a bunch of house and it wild as all the trees and vegetation are dead.
0 votes
Mirdhajpn, Home Buyer, Mountain View, CA
Thu May 14, 2015
The Same Problem is also facing by us .Panic and chaos among Family Members.

Jai Prakash Mirdha
Sai Nagar,
Near Sai Temple,
0 votes
Flag Thu May 14, 2015
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