Selling a Home Near Powerlines, Airports, and Other Challenging Things

selling a home near powerlines airports and other challenging things

Selling a Home Near Powerlines, Airports, and Other Challenging Things

Selling a home can be stressful enough without adding the additional challenge of a less-than-ideal location. When something like power lines, a noisy airport or train tracks, or busy highway is involved, it can be tough to attract a buyer. 

The real estate mantra of “location, location, location!” as the most important thing about a home can feel like an impossible goal when a home’s location isn’t great. But we believe there’s a buyer for every home. With some preparation and creativity, homeowners can make their houses desirable no matter where they are.

Here are some tips for lessening the impact of an undesirable situation, and maybe even turning it into an advantage.

Be Honest From the Start

In some cases, the issues with a house are obvious. There’s no hiding the power lines in the backyard or the airport next door. Even so, sellers need to be ready to talk about the situation and how it impacts their daily life. Some buyers may rule the house out immediately. Those who are open-minded will appreciate an insider’s view of what it’s really like to live there.

If, for example, the house is next to train tracks, the owner can point out that most of the trains pass while they are at work and the kids are at school. Or that a retaining wall blocks out most of the sound and prevents kids from getting too close to the tracks. It’s a good time to point out positive features that can make up for the situation—without sugarcoating the facts.

People can get used to almost any situation after a while. If a seller shares the fact that they barely notice the traffic noise or airplanes anymore it could convince a house hunter to take another look.

Calm Buyers’ Fears

a barrier and fence save the sight and noise of a train

Nearby train tracks or a pond may be a concern for parents of small children. Noise or vibration from an airport, highway, or factory could be bothersome for anyone. Anything that the seller can do to calm the buyer’s fears will help sell the house. 

The safety (or danger) of living close to power lines is an ongoing debate. The concern is EMFs, or electromagnetic fields that the lines emit. Expert opinions range from EMFs being perfectly safe to causing cancer and other deadly diseases. There is extensive literature on both sides of the argument, with no definite consensus either way.

Even though most experts agree that power lines are safe, the fact that some people believe they’re not can make it hard to sell a house. A homeowner can contact their local utility company to conduct a test of the EMF output. They can also check the EMF levels themselves with a device called a magnetometer. There are even smartphone apps that will measure electromagnetic fields. Data that shows a minimal amount of risk will be helpful in assuring buyers.

Accentuate the Positive

a house near an airport can be convenient for travelers

Don’t let the challenge eclipse all the good things about the house. Great schools, a nice neighborhood, and a convenient location are all important—not only when choosing a place to live, but also if the buyer is concerned about resale value. Make sure to point out all of these pluses. 

And sometimes a negative in one sense can be a positive in another. For example, powerlines behind a house might mean additional greenspace rather than homes backing up to the property. 

Airports and highways, while noisy, can be convenient for someone who travels a lot. Putting up with the activity and extra traffic of a school might be worth it if parents can watch their children walk to class from the front porch. And living near a manufacturing plant or office complex can mean a convenient commute for people who work there.

Remember that no house is perfect, and everyone has a different list of must-haves as well as deal-breakers. Find the positive aspects of the challenging situation and use them to market the house.  

Make Strategic Improvements

a vinyl fence can be a good way to block unsightly views with creative landscaping

There is usually a list of things to fix before putting a house on the market, and plenty of advice about ways to sell a house fast. With an added challenge like power lines or being on a flight path, homeowners might need to take some extra steps to make even the most beautiful home more desirable.

Creative Landscaping. Plant trees (with the power company’s approval), or put up a shed to block the view of power poles. A garden, fence, or berm can also help to hide a neighboring factory or any unsightly structure.

Smart Outdoor Space Location. If possible, locate patios or other outdoor living spaces on the opposite side of the house or at least as far away as possible from the problem area.

Noise and light reduction. Take measures to soundproof or muffle sounds from a highway or airport. Blackout curtains or shutters can make the lights of passing cars less distracting. 

Timing is Important

three different home for sale signs from three different realtors

The state of the housing market in the area can have a big impact on whether a buyer can overlook a negative aspect near a house. Some areas are so desirable that any house that goes on the market is snatched up immediately. A lovely house in a great neighborhood is a find, and something like power lines won’t matter.

If a seller is having trouble attracting a buyer because there are similar houses available without the problem, they may want to wait until there is a change in the market. 

Price it Right

house in exchange for money homes for sale graphic

To sell a “challenged” house, the seller might need to adjust the asking price. Again, this will depend on the local market. Unfortunately, power lines often negatively affect the sales price of a home. Sources vary, but some claim that the sales price can change by by as much as 30%. 

This means it is more important than ever that these homes are in good shape. However, expensive upgrades and improvements should be considered with caution. A real estate agent can help decide which features will best make up for whatever might be perceived as a negative aspect of the property. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties would be happy to offer their advice about improvements and how to price the home.  

Sell a House No Matter the Challenge

Convincing a potential buyer that there’s nothing to be concerned about can be tough—especially if the undesirable circumstance plays a part in your reason for wanting to sell the house. Still, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what bothers one person might be no big deal to another. Every buyer will find a home that’s right for them—there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the house you’re trying to sell.

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