RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

NOV 2018

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

Issue link: http://remag.rismedia.com/i/1042091

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Page 30 of 142

26 November 2018 RISMedia's REAL ESTATE Fear in Response to Gas Explosions and Health Hazards Although rare on a large scale—there have been 646 incidents related to natural gas distribution since 1998, according to the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Ad - ministration—gas explosions and other related incidents do occur. Recent events may be causing buy - ers to hesitate with homes that are hooked into a natural gas pipeline. Recently, a large area of Merri - mack Valley, spanning the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Ando - ver in Massachusetts, experienced a catastrophic gas line explosion that led to the death of one resident, inju - ries for around 25 individuals and the damage or destruction of more than a dozen homes and businesses. At press time, over 8,600 residents are without gas heat and hot water, and the restoration may be a months- long process. The culprit? Natural gas pressure that was 12 times above the normal level before the explosion, according to USA Today. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which handles the distribution of gas to these neighborhoods, is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The investigation has uncovered that parent company NiSource, which serves about 3.9 million customers across seven states and operates an estimated 60,000 miles of dis - tribution pipelines, is tied to three other gas-related explosions. Additionally, health scares may be causing an aversion toward natural gas heating. While exposure to low levels of natural gas shouldn't be a concern, long-term exposure can lead to headaches, dizziness, nau - sea, eye and throat irritation, fatigue, breathing problems and pale skin or blisters, according to HealthLine. What can industry professionals do to assuage these fears? The best course of action is to educate home - owners. They should evacuate the area immediately if they experience: • A sulfurous smell like rotten eggs • A hissing or whistling sound near a gas line • Plants that are dying or dead for seemingly no reason • Any signs of a white cloud, blowing dust or bubbles in standing water • A damaged connection to a gas line Valuation Impact for Homes Near Easements May Alter Consumer Perception Opinions are split on whether gas lines near homes, specifically main lines with easements, affect a home's property values. Multiple studies defend either side; howev - er, the majority of studies claiming that gas pipeline easements don't negatively affect a home's value are conducted by gas companies them - selves, injecting the question: Are the results biased? According to one source, the Fo - rensic Appraisal Group, pipeline easements can reportedly create Gas Pipelines a Blight in Real Estate? Explosions and Easements May Cause Resale Concerns N atural gas. In recent years, when hearing this single, seemingly minor detail for a property's utility hook-up, buyers typically conveyed a tone of excitement. Nationally and in recent history, natural gas has been the leading choice for heating fuel in the U.S. residential property space; however, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electric heat may be gaining ground. Is affordability the only stimulus, or are other factors at play? Here's what could be causing a possible disinclination toward natural gas heating: by Liz Dominguez

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