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Irremediable defect?

5 days ago

Is that the right phrase?

A house that is very nice in many respects has an area across the street, surrounded by fence and shrubs, that is a pumping station for sewage. Looks like it is perhaps the size of two 2-car garages. Is this something that would be considered a defect and would affect the resale of a home, or is it a routine thing in a development in the southeast that I'm just not familiar with?


Comments (32)

  • mary_md7

    Re-read the email and the exact phrase was "pumping station for the sewers."

  • Sammy

    Two houses are for sale that are comparable in every way except one is located across from a pumping station and the other isn‘t. Which is worth more?

  • mary_md7

    Sammy, that is the question. Is this a common situation and no big deal or is it important to value and resale down the road?

  • Sammy

    It’s a negative.

  • functionthenlook

    I would think it would be a negative. Questions to consider. Would it smell on hot days or overflow during heavy rains? Are the pumps noisy? What happens if the electricity goes out? Since it is probably township property can they use it as they want. Like parking trucks and heavy equipment on it or add cell phone towers? Can they enlarge the pump station as needed?

    As sammy said look at the price of comparables in the area. If the home is priced low the pump station would hurt resale.

  • Denita

    @mary_md7, I think the phrase you are looking for is "incurable defect".

    Yes, having a pumping station across the street would be an incurable defect and permanently impact the value of the property now and in the future.

    Here is a very brief article on incurable defects in real estate:

  • mary_md7

    Question: another incurable defect can be a location close to high power lines, correct?. How close is too close? This same home across from the pumping station is sort of near -- there are 4 houses plus a narrow golf fairway between that home and the high power lines.

    Another nice home, different development, is even closer to power lines... between this other home and the power lines there is one home and then an open area of maybe 100 yards or so. We will do a drive-by to see how close it is, since it's hard to tell exactly from the satellite photos on

  • Denita

    I have found that some buyers care about overhead powerlines and others don't care as much. it is individual IME. check with your Realtor to see the discount on the sales in the neighborhood for each of these properties so you have an idea of market impact. Or you can get an appraiser to provide a report to you on your favorite home so you will have an idea of what to offer. If you hire an appraiser in this capacity you are the client and not the bank. Just so you know, the lender can't use that appraisal for loan purposes. Another one would have to be ordered by the lender and you would have to pay for that too. It is well worth it to make sure you aren't paying too much.

  • jrb451

    Sorry, this thread remined me of a paper I wrote in the early 1980s on the effect of Titan II missile silos on surrounding property values. Carry on.

  • homechef59

    As an appraiser, I would have to visit the site and see how it affects the surrounding area. It could be that the landscape screening is effective and there are no noxious odors or noise. If that was the case, it would be treated the same way as a large electrical box or telephone switching stand. You might note it in the report, but you wouldn't make a reduction in the valuation.

    If it makes noise or smells really bad, you would have something that is referred to as a locational or external obsolescence. This means it is not within your power to correct or mitigate the issue. In that case, it may negatively affect the valuation.

    I know of a home that is a very desirable small town with a humming electrical transfer station that is heavily screened by shrubbery adjacent to the home . The home is stunning. When you drive up to the house and get out of the car, the hum from the transfer station is very loud. It is noxious. The owner's can't sell the house. Haven't been able to sell it for the last 10 years.

    Moral of the story is you need to visit the site to assess the impact. Looking at a picture may not tell the whole story.

  • lyfia

    For power lines I think it is one of those if it is common in the area and there are more houses affected by them than not (ie the area is near a power plant) then it is probably not that way as the whole area is affected by it and would be reflected in prices for the area.

    If power lines like it is not common in the area then generally I think buyers are more likely to see it as an incurable defect if they see them easily be seen from the house and makes the view less desirable because that is what you see when you look out the windows of your house. However a house that that doesn't have that view from any of their rooms, but is still near buyers may not think about it in the same way - out of sight out of mind kind of thing.

    In many areas it is common to have power lines that are visible that runs along the fence line because it is what supplies the houses in the area and I don't think they generally have an affect on the sale price vs. those houses that have it underground in the neighborhood.

  • functionthenlook

    I think th OP is inquiring about high power lines (the real big ones) not the everyday electric lines that run on wooden poles (AKA telephone poles) that supply homes. Majority of our electric lines are on telephone poles and it is a non issue.

    I've read you should be at least 700 ft from the high power lines. Some say they can cause cancer.

  • morz8

    mary, my sis bought a house on 5 acres that has BPA power lines visible across a field and above some timber (field and timber hers). Insult to injury (IMO) there is a railroad line running under the lines. About 4 times a day, a train passing on the hill above is audibly interruptive when someone is working in her kitchen, let alone out in the garden.

    Neither bother her - she finds the five acres completely private. I'd have passed on the property. Power lines and a the proximity of the train would have eliminated that home as my choice.

    BPA has an easement across their prop too, came in and did some limb clearing and pruning on the partially wooded parcel. They did not need permission to do so.

  • Sammy

    Pumping stations and power lines are not desirable things to see when looking out of one’s windows. There’s no, “Well, it depends...I’d have to see if it big are the lines?” to discuss.

  • functionthenlook

    Sammy, lol Greater Pittsburgh would be a ghost town if living with electric lines was not desirable. Except for downtown and a very few HOA cookie cutter housing plans built within the past few years have overhead lines. If I would take an educated guess I would say 98% are overhead. It's a non issue for us. The alternative is having no electricity to your home, which is undesirable. What is undesirable is having those big electric boxes sitting in your front yard for us.

  • Sammy

    Power lines from the pole to the house isn’t what I’m talking about. I mean, you don’t really have a choice in how the power enters your home. I’m talking about the big lines.

    P.S. I grew up in the ’burgh ‘burbs (greatest place to grow up, btw). Luckily our neighborhood had underground power (and cable, which was a BIG DEAL at the time) lines and nary a pumping station in sight!

  • functionthenlook

    Ah, a native. No I wouldn't live near the large BPA electric lines or a sewer pumping station or plant. Of course sewer pumping stations aren't common here since sewers are gravity feed.

  • morz8

    I wasn't talking about residential lines from street to house either. Many neighborhoods still do not have underground service, including mine.

    I was referring to the high voltage lines that feed the lines we are accustomed to seeing....something like this as I can see from my Sis's house

  • mary_md7

    I am indeed talking about the high power lines on tall treadles. The house utilities in the development are underground. There are these tall high power lines running next to one development and through another. We will check the distance. From online photos my husband thinks 200 yards. But we need to check that and stand in the yard to see what we can see. Drove 7 hours today. We are seeing 4 resale houses tomorrow and 3 new construction houses the next morning.

  • Denita

    IME the new construction homes are more expensive than resale when you compare size, location, etc. If you are looking at new construction communities, check to see if there are any resales available in the new community. Typically the sellers have already installed window treatments, additional landscaping and other items and you can usually get a better deal on the resale home vs the new construction home even if it is the same floorplan in the same community. Not always, but usually. It's worth checking out.

    As to those huge power lines on tall treadles - I would choose a home as far away from them as possible. I have no idea if there is an actual issue with them causing cancer or not, but they will cut down your buyer pool when it comes time to sell the house. If you can't find something without some sort of external defect then I think I would rather have the pumping station across the street than the huge power lines - as long as it doesn't smell :)

  • mary_md7

    Yes, we are focussing more on resales. The two new construction homes we will see are already built, but the photos do not show window treatments-a big expense. And some resales include the fridge, washer, and dryer.

  • Denita

    ^Exactly. You are right about the appliances and other items.

    And, builders typically push over all of their closing costs to the buyer side. Even if you negotiate a contribution toward your closing costs and pre-paid expenses, the amount of that contribution usually covers just what a normal seller would be paying in the market. IOW, if you don't negotiate a seller contribution, then you are paying thousands more for the house and paying for a typical seller expense if you buy new construction vs resale. I hope you enjoy your search and find just the right home for you.

  • mary_md7

    H! Another house that just came up is near train tracks. But the train only runs once a day, mid-day, weekdays to supply Camp Lejeune so we don't care.

  • CA Kate z9

    The problem with buying in either situation is what may happen in the future that would make the property unsellable. Some study might absolutely prove that the High Voltage lines do indeed cause 'whatever' and you must not live within a half mile of them.... and this is something 'they' are always studying. The sewage station could 'erupt' or in someother way default making your investment worthless. Unless you're absolutely despirate to buy and one of these situations is your only choice, I'd look elsewhere.

  • nancylouise5me

    Yes, both situations are a detriment to a house for sale. I wouldn't purchase a house near either. As a matter of fact, when we were moving into this area many moons ago we looked at a historical Cape. Looked out the kitchen window and all I could see were the high voltage lines going across the back property. Not the view I wanted nor the health factor either. Passed on that house.

  • Lisa

    I grew up near a large international airport. When the weather was bad, the runway approach went right over our house. After a while, I didn't even notice it. Conversation paused and then resumed as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The homes were priced accordingly and sold because of the great schools and easy commute.

  • bry911

    Here is an easy to test to determine when something will affect the resale of your home. If you are worried about something affecting resale value, stop worrying and be assured that it probably will. This is one of those "if you have to ask" questions. The OP seems rational enough and since the OP wondered about it, other people are likely to also worry. The weight each of those people gives that defect is somewhat individual but in the end some people will decide to look elsewhere because of it. When fewer people are interested in a property the price is usually goes down.

    Now, whether or not you should avoid the house depends on how it is priced now relative to other houses without the defect. If the discount is priced in, it may still be a great value.

  • mary_md7

    Drove by the house near power lines this morning (we will visit with our buyer's agent this afternoon). With my car on the street in front of the house, I could not see the power lines; looking between the houses across the street I could not see the power lines. In the tone since the online satellite photo was taken, the trees in a wide area behind the houses across the street have grown. Certainly if I cannot see them from the street out front, it seems very unlikely we can see them through windows of the home or from the back yard.

    This doesn't fully solve the question, but what I saw did not lead me to eliminate it immediately.

    Edited to add: the housing development on the other side of the power lines is building new homes practically under them!

  • rrah

    Power lines are not attractive, but they do not cause cancer. This was a "thing" people were worried about when we were buying our first house. It's been studied a lot. Even the National Cancer Institute says, "No."

    We're all exposed to one type of EMFs daily from our cell phones to our laptops to our microwaves, etc.

    I also wouldn't buy a house across the street from a pumping station. Even though the email said "sewer," it could be a sanitary waste sewer or a storm water sewer.

  • chispa

    We hike near and under many large power lines here in LA. I could never live close to them. The hum/buzz they make would drive me crazy.

    And a popular saying in real estate is "there is no defect that price can't cure", which means that at the right price, some people will buy the house right under the power lines or next to the 8 lane highway.

  • Denita

    True chispa. I know of a community that has 2/2 condo's for sale for one dollar (yes, you read that right). The condos are very nice (some with dated decor), good sized (1300 sf living area) and the community is beautiful. What's the catch? The monthly and annual fees from the COA and the golf club mandatory membership.

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