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Kirt's Cogitations™ #318

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A couple years ago a house two streets away had an estate sale after the elderly gentleman who owned it passed on. There was a lot of old amateur radio gear for sale, and most of it had been bought early in the morning, right after the beginning of the sale according to the man's daughter who was on-hand. The newspaper notice mentioned the Ham equipment. In the back yard was a nice 40-foot crank-up tower that was a bit weather-worn, but otherwise appeared to be in good condition. She said that was the first item sold. I didn't ask how much she got for it. The house was to be sold, and they were glad to have the tower gone before listing it on the market.

Ham Radio Homes screen capture - RF CafeI have wondered in the past when seeing a "For Sale" sign in the lawn of a house with one or more radio towers in the yard how much they would impact the sale price. Some Hams would plan to take the towers and antennas with them to the new house, but otherwise would their presence potentially make the house more difficult to sell at a good price? Back in the days when a nice, high TV antenna would be valuable, having a tower of reasonable height might have been an asset, but nowadays a tower would be a nuisance and eyesore to a non-Ham. There are of course Amateurs looking to buy a new house that would appreciate a pre-installed tower, but they are a small percentage of buyers.

The February 2020 issue of the ARRL's QST magazine has an article by Allison McLellan entitled, "Radio-Friendly Real Estate" that addresses the issue. As you might expect, there are some home selling firms that specialize in marketing property that comes with towers (some with antennas) on the premises, or are located in areas free from neighborhood (HOA) and/or local zoning prohibitions or restrictions. Sometimes pre-existing towers quality for an exemption by virtue of a grandfather clause. Ms. McLellan mentions that the eham.net website forum's Classified area is a popular spot for Hams to list houses for sale. Select "HAM Homes" from the search page dropdown list, and enter a specific term ("e.g., "house") in the Text field. Many are marked as "SOLD," so people are having success there. Other Ham radio forums can be used as well.

She also mentions the HamRadioHomes.com website, run by QTH.com Classifieds webmaster Scott Neader (KA9FOX), which was created specifically to provide a venue for properties already outfitted for the special needs of Ham operators. At this time there appears to be a little over a dozen homes listed for sale ranging in location from Prince Edward Island, Canada, to Florida to Oregon. Some have a single tower while others have many. Prices go from under $100k to over $1,000,000. The price for listing your home - until it sells - is a mere $99. That's a very small price to pay considering that it might just find you a buyer doing a search for Ham radio-friendly property. In fact, if your do a Google search on "ham friendly house," "ham-friendly property," or some variant thereof, HamRadioHomes.com returns at the top of the page.

The same type of search for Ham radio properties also turns up many negative issues with homes for sale having towers and/or antennas already erected. Many neighbors consider them to be an eyesore that devalue their own nearby homes, and complain of bleed-over into other over-the-air broadcasts. Others blame their garage door malfunctions, Wi-Fi router signal troubles, and other strangeness on their avid radio amateur neighbors. Some even think their smart meters are being affected by transmissions and causing erroneously high utility bills. Although I hesitate to mention it, the situation can possibly be used in your favor as a buyer if you feign concern over the problem disposing of the tower(s) would cause, and the liability of having such a structure on the property. If the house has been on the market for many months, and particularly if winter is on the way, you might be successful with a low-ball offer that will get you the Ham-friendly property you really want.



Posted January 31, 2020

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