The Complete Picture

Prince “Turbine” County!

House Prices

In this essay I explore arguments regarding how wind farms affect property prices. I’ll look at remarks made by wind power companies, recognized research papers, recent news developments before drawing my conclusions on the overall question. I’ll also assess how any factors that are different to Prince Edward County might influence the possibilities here.

The question, “How do wind and solar farms affect property values?” is answered like this on the Skypower FAQ page.

“In other jurisdictions where wind farms have a longer history than in Canada, the vast majority of evidence indicates wind farms have no material effect on property values; indeed, the most extensive work from the USA and Europe indicates the reverse may be true. For more information, refer to ‘The Effect of Wind Development on Local Property Value’ document at http://www.crest.org/wind/index.html.”  (skypowerfaq6 08/07/30)

The link is no longer working, but almost the same wording is used on another FAQ page, this time Bowark energy Ltd.

“There is no evidence to suggest that property values will be lowered in the long-term as a result of the proximity of a wind farm. In fact, property values are more likely to increase due to the added source of income for the landowner. For a comprehensive report on the subject consult the Renewable Energy Policy Project document

‘The Effect of Wind Development on Local Property Values’ available online at 

http://www.crest.org/wind/index.html”  http://www.bowark.com/pdf/st_joseph_QA.pdf (bowark FAQ 08/07/30)

But this time note the additional text that I have highlighted in Red. Of course if you are getting a financial return from the wind turbines the affect on the value of your land will increase. We’ll see reference to this in a RIC’s report later.  But not everyone is receiving a payment from the energy company and in many cases land owners do not live on or close to the land that they leasing to them. (I would like to see a plan for the various Prince Edward County Schemes to see how relevant this final point is here.)

A further search found what looks like a more comprehensive report that I’ve supplied a link to here.

The affect of Wind Development on Local Property Prices.

It reports that house prices actually go up in value. However the report is complied by REPP (Renewable Energy Policy Project an organization enjoying US government funding (full list here),  and this is what their about page says.

REPP’s Mission

REPP’s goal is to accelerate the use of renewable energy by providing credible information, insightful policy analysis, and innovative strategies amid changing energy markets and mounting environmental needs by researching, publishing, and disseminating information, creating policy tools, and hosting highly active, on-line, renewable energy discussion groups.

What REPP Does

 

REPP supports the advancement of renewable energy technology through policy research. REPP seeks to define growth strategies for renewables that respond to competitive energy markets and environmental needs. Since its inception in 1995, REPP has investigated the relationship among policy, markets and public demand in accelerating the deployment of renewable energy, which include biomass, hydropower, geothermal, photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind and renewable hydrogen. The organization offers a platform from which experts in the field can examine issues of medium-to long-term importance to policy makers, green energy entrepreneurs, and environmental advocates.” (http://www.repp.org/aboutus.html)

Most of us understand that statistics can be presented in a number of ways in order to demonstrate the point that you wish to make, and therefore if your aim is to accelerate the use of renewable energy it follows that if I was being paid to design a credible project I’m sure I would find ways to meet that goal.It is a fairly heavy duty report and I wonder how many people have ever read it in detail.Note the CREST now appears to be part of REPP. Therefore I am suspicious of the findings.

The most honest opinion to this question has to come from a recognized body that operates independent from the  Wind Energy companies.  The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is such an organization. 

They have produced a report on the subject dated 23 March 2007 which is shown here regarding UK property prices. Please Click Here for Link

This report comes with a big caution disclaimer as the field sample is small, but the conclusions seem to suggest:

  • The true answer to the question is complex and emotive
  • Whether or not the land owner has a stake in the project
  • Whether of not the community benefits, for example cheaper electricity prices.
  • 60% of a public sample (405) thought it would have a negative impact, and 67% thought that impact would commence at the planning stage.
  • That the prospect of a wind-farm is more negative than the actual siting of windfarm.
  • That while windfarms may affect desirability, other factors may do so more.
However the report is a linear distance comparison and I’m not happy with that. It basically compares the current value of houses at varying distances from wind turbines. What it does not do is compare these current relative values against previous values. It may well be that a detached house close to the turbine is equal in value to one further away, but what if prior to the turbine it had been worth some amount more. 
Also in the UK it was very common, until last year, to take out short-term mortgages and refinance every couple of years. This allowed customers to chase the best mortgage deals while at the same time release equity to pay off credit cards or fund purchasing. During early 2006 a newspaper article I read at the time stated that 15% of all spending was from house refinancing – I remember it because it was part of decision to sell up and move to Canada.
But the importance is that by effectively selling your house to yourself during a re-mortgage, there is no process of market testing and probably some negotiation by real buyers. When you re-mortgage you normally just try and get the most equity out of your house that you can. These untested house sale figures do however go into the statistics in exactly the same way as conventional sale, but as they haven’t been tested, distort the average figure upwards. 
 
In the case of houses near wind turbines it may well be that a surveyor evaluates the value as xyz because there is no evidence to lower the value unless several have sold for much lower prices. If we are re-mortgaging the deal goes through as the house being of xyz value, yet if this house was to go onto the market then the amount that it sold for would reflect the influence of the wind-turbines and may be less. 
 
So the RICS figures do not actually show the amount that people are prepared to pay for a house near a wind-turbine. Also if we imagine a situation where you could no longer live in your house as is claimed by some people, you may not be able to sell your house at all. But this does not mean it suddenly shows up on the statistics as zero value.
 
The report mentions that realtors report that windtubines don’t affect people’s decisions I know is questionable because most people will say this prior to viewing the home and experiencing it’s location, or they are hoping to find more house for less and accept the compromise of the turbine. 
 
This has to be the case if 60% of people in the RICs questionnaire  believe that wind turbines negatively effect value. It means that they will not pay as much for a house with turbines in proximity than a similar house without.
 
But just to spoil the party a very important court ruling demonstrated a negative impact on house values and the reduction in quality of living experienced by owners close to wind turbines  has recently been made in the UK.
On 30 July 2008 
A valuation tribunal ruled last week that the construction of the wind farm close to the Davis’ home had a “significant detrimental effect” on their enjoyment of their home and would have “some effect on the potential sale price”.
The couple successfully had their council tax (domestic rate) reduced to the lowest level too. Read a full news article here.
Another article from Daily Telegraph on 28th July 2008.
“Estate agents have said no one is likely to buy the Jones’s house, which was worth £170,000 before the wind farm was built.” full article (Daily Telegraph 08/07/28)

 

So what we are seeing happening here is that on the one hand past statistical interpretations are reporting no difference, yet this recent Court case is saying that some of these homes close to wind turbines houses are now technically un-sellable. That is a very serious implication for those house owners and something we cannot ignore in the county. 

Over the next few years as more large scale wind turbine proposals are considered and media coverage becomes more focused on the individual stories overall public opinion regarding wind turbines may well deteriorate. If the public perception of wind turbines reduces then it would be logical to conclude that the potential value of properties close to, or having views of wind turbines will almost certainly be reduced relative to their pre wind turbine potential value by slipping down the desirability ladder. 

Conclusions

The REPP report by cannot be seen as “safe” as it is prepared by an organization whose aims are to accelerate renewable energy growth. At least two of the case studies involve wind turbines in an area that had already been been subject to heavy industrialization.

The RIC report has methodology that is suspect in that it does not compare before and after house values. It does not seperate recorded house values from what people wher actually prepared to pay for a house and those that were re financed by owners. Houses that potentially cannot be sold will not show up on the statistics as zero or low value because no transaction has been made.

Homes that are set to gain from wind energy lease contract may go up in value.

There is still public naivety about wind-farms, but if public perception of them decreases, as will probably be the case as more people are exposed to the possibility of having them built close by, the desirability of homes near wind-farms will probably decrease. It follows that the less desirable a house is, the lower down the property ladder it is placed. This would therefore mean it’s potential value has been reduced.

60 percent of people surveyed thought wind turbines would decrease value, which therefore means 60% of people would expect to pay less for a house near wind-turbines than an equivalent home without them. No reference was made to whether the sample had experienced living close to wind turbines, in which this figure may be different

A recent court case, in which the legal process examines a number of factors has ruled that the enjoyment of homes has been decreased for their owners and the value of their properties decreased.

Therefore I am going to say while homes that are set to gain from energy lease contracts may see a rise in value, the majority of houses will expect to lose value although this loss in value may only become tested when the house is placed on the market and sold. In some cases the house may become impossible to sell in which case we see a situation where the desirability to live close to wind turbines is no longer truely reflected in the statistical price that may be placed on the home.

“For Most houses, legal rulings have stated that proximity to wind turbines effect house value, and the owners enjoyment of their house.”

In “The County... ”

During the past decade, house prices have risen quicker within “The County” than some surrounding areas. This is because The County is seen as a highly desirable – idilic rural location in which to live with beautiful countryside, a high quality of life, cultured activities, waterfront, beaches, trails etc. Investment into business’s such as vine yards several years added desirability which increased house prices.

As confidence in the region grew, so greater investment came, followed by greater desirability – including speculative home buying – which increased home prices further.

Therefore the controlling factor for Prince Edward County house’s Prices is it remaining a desirable place to live, attracting enough people with the necessary amount of buying power from cities like Toronto to sustain these prices. The moment the “Hot Location” label becomes a “Not Location” the market reverses because speculators try to sell at the top of the cycle, the number of houses on the market increases and with increased competition between houses for sale the price drops. 

I cannot offer the science for that, but it’s what I have observed in the UK and follows general market principles. I would advise that in order to protect and enhance local house prices our local council demonstrate policy that attracts sustainable investment and growth with policies that enhance and protect the quality of life offered by living in “The County.” 

Remember the Davis case looks at a house about 1000m from a Turbine, in the county they will probably use 400m set back.

Update – Selling off the County?

During the first week in August I have challenged realtors as to the real story by placing my home in the potential listings pot. I’ll be writing a follow up article soon which explore this in more detail, but the realtors are saying, Yes it does effect values, People Do walk away from properties, There are 27% more properties on the market this year, and around my home more are going up for sale all the time. I have al the e-mails to show the council. Yes the economy overall isn’t as strong this year and on it’s own has had a modest effect. So is it not foolish for the council to be flirting with those industrial wind energy proposals that negatively effect social, economic and environmental sensitivities within a creative rural economy, when the effect of this action is to send our investments in our homes and businesses into an even great nose dive?

Thankyou for reading.

I welcome your comments

 

Additional Links

 

House Prices will Plummet  Planning committee told referring to just one Turbine will effect values.

Advertisements

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: