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Real estate experts: Power lines can hurt some home sales

A Merrick civic group has filed a $100

A Merrick civic group has filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead over new cellular antenna systems being installed in the community. Credit: Mario Gonzalez

Electrical and communications infrastructure often is viewed as an aesthetic negative by home shoppers, real estate experts say.

So the proximity of high tension lines, utility poles, transformers, Wi-Fi boxes and cellular telephone antennas can be a negative for home values - especially if prospective buyers have health concerns about magnetic fields in the cases of high power lines and microwave radiation in the case of cell phone towers.

"It has nothing to do with whether it's real or not," Jonathan Miller, head of Manhattan-based Miller Samuel real estate appraisal firm, said of such health concerns. "It's whether or not the buyers of the property near one of those installations have the concern."

Such installations tend to detract from the all-important curb appeal of a home, says Realtor Linda Albo, owner of the Albo Agency in Rocky Point. "The first impression a home always makes is its curb appeal," she said. "And if anything detracts from the curb appeal, it's going to detract from the price."

But, she says, such installations aren't viewed as negatively as something like a gas station or another bustling business nearby that draws extra traffic and raises aesthetic and environmental concerns.

Georgianna Finn, owner of Coach Realtors in Northport, says concerns about high tension wires are common but that in her experience cell phone antennas have not been an issue in home sales - perhaps because they are usually less noticeable, sometimes disguised as trees. "I can't think of an instance I have personally heard of where someone objected to a cell phone tower," she said. Further, she said, some buyers view the wide rights of way for some power lines as a positive - like living next to a greenbelt.

Electrical and communications installations are among many factors almost entirely beyond homeowners' control that can harm the value of what, for many, is their single largest investment. Others, says Miller, can include the signs of economic woes: an increase in vacant and foreclosed homes and shuttered neighborhood stores.

Placing a dollar value on any factor is next to impossible, he said, because often several are at play. "You can't make a blanket statement and say, 'It affects your home's value by X,' " he said. "There may be other reasons why the value may be impaired. It's very abstract."

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